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Monday, April 03, 2006
In brief: South-East housing targets, planning champions, social housing and more Budget news
The Draft South-East Plan has been published for consultation and says that the area needs to build 29,000 homes per year, of which a third should be affordable. Realistic or not, or is it even right in its assumptions? Would love to know your views.

The charity Planning Aid has announced a new scheme in conjunction with the ODPM to ecourage local authorities to all appoint an officer or elected member as a 'planning champion' to act as a bridge between groups who often do not understand the complexities of the planning system and how they can make their views known. I'm pretty much a fan of Planning Aid but it's slightly odd how their press release basically bills the scheme as producing Planning Aid champions as well as the more neutral aim of improving the planning process - one of their champions roles will be to "Shout about Planning Aid and its services within the local authority - and beyond."

Developers have 'shunned' the Treasury's initative to get more private firms involved with buliding social housing. Of the 81 successful bids for the Housing Corporation's £3.9bn investment programme for 2006/08, only six are from private firms. Developers blamed an over-complex bidding process for the lack of reponse.

And finally, a bit more Budget analysis coming out of Building mag (subs only). They pick up on the decision to rule out the Barker review's proposal to introduce a tax credit to encourage the redevelopment of long-term derelict sites. He also failed to take the opportunity to cut VAT rates for refurbishment projects. Apparently the justification was that to grant the credit would give a perverse incentive to landowners to keep sites derelict for longer.

The Budget statement also included details of a cross-government review of regeneration efforts, which could lead to a cull of regeneration institutions (finally! after only a decade of quango hell...) It is likely to examine the performance of the nine housing market renewal pathfinders, six of which received a two-year extension of their funding lifeline last week and there are suspicions that not all this funding will in fact be released.

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