Six Lancashire councils are to help spearhead a Government backed new homes initiative which aims to get first time buyers, aged 23 -40, on the property ladder.
It is predicted that 600 new starter homes could be built in the central Lancashire area, with house prices 20% below the market value.
Four partnerships - South Ribble Council with Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council; Blackpool Council; Blackburn with Darwen Council and Pendle Council are included in the Government’s list of 30 new Starter Homes Land Fund partnerships.
The £1.2bn scheme runs until 2020 and will provide cash to prepare former brownfield sites across England.
Coun Cliff Hughes, South Ribble Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning and housing, predicted 600 new homes could be built locally and said: “We identified a number of brownfield sites across the three local authority areas and we are pleased that we have been chosen for funding.
“Money from the fund will be spent on overcoming problems that have prevented work beginning on the sites previously, such as utility access or drainage. The fund requires that at least half of the homes on each site must be starter homes. It is estimated that more than 1,200 new homes could be built in total on the sites.”
He continued: “However, it is still early days. Some of the sites require land acquisition and some require planning permission. There is still a lot of work to be done before work can get underway.”
South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy said: “It is great to see a programme that offers first time buyers a helping hand being established in South Ribble. The area has been in need of affordable homes to help people join the housing ladder and I am pleased to see that we are in the first wave of local authorities to be offered access to this great opportunity from the Government.”
Lancashire County Council Coun Jenny Mein said: “It’s absolutely welcome and we need more of it. Working with the City Deal we are ahead of the game.”
She said the City Deal partnership, established with South Ribble and Preston Councils in 2013, meant the trio was well placed to bring forward results, with a pledge that 17,500 new homes would be built by 2023 - although not all would be starter homes.
Meanwhile at Preston Council deputy leader Coun John Swindells gave a cautious welcome to the announcement saying: “We still need more details of what of it to know what exactly a 20 per cent market rate discount would look like.”
Construction of the new properties will be dependent on either developer interest or funding from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). It is not known just how much money will be allocated to Lancashire as the the Homes and Communities Agency says it will judge each potential site on its merits. The agency recently created a £1.7bn “accelerated construction” fund to build 15,000 homes on surplus public sector land.
The Lancashire partnerships were selected because of their potential for early delivery of schemes.