Why not announced as a Garden City – as its the only site with value capture? The Treasury is stepping in because it has finally worked out the private sector cannot deliver more than about half of the homes we need even with an entirely permissive set of planning reforms.
Do this 40 or so times and we would guarantee 300,000 homes a year, almost eliminate the housing credit cycle and solve the secular stagnation/profits puzzle problem of limited real wage growth due to wages being spent on rent and profits being spent on asset bubbles rather than investment in production. At almost zero interest rates it really is a no brainer and would pay for itself rapidly in reduced housing benefit payments.
The pilot programme, announced in today’s National Infrastructure Plan, would see government housing and regeneration quango the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) lead the development of 10,000 homes on the government-owned former RAF base in Northstowe, near Cambridge.
The Treasury said the pilot signalled “the first time in a generation that the government has owned land, led a development on it at this scale, and considered commissioning homes directly for sale”.
It added that it would assess the feasibility and economic impacts of rolling out this model in a bid to support and accelerate housing supply.
Northstowe was one of the eco-towns proposed across England that were announced in 2009.
A masterplan for 10,000 homes at the site was approved in July 2012. Outline plans for an initial phase to deliver 1,500 homes was approved in October 2012, while an application for a further 3,500 homes was submitted in August this year.
When asked for further details on the plans, an HCA spokesman said that the quango would be “working on the detail with DCLG”. The Treasury was also asked to provide more details but had yet to do so at time of publication.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reported today that Bicester in Oxfordshire will become a garden city, with the Autumn Statement pledging £100 million of government funding to support the plans.
A government statement, published alongside the National Infrastructure Plan, said that it would “work with Bicester to support its plans to become a garden town, to support the construction of up to 13,000 homes”.
The local authority, Cherwell District Council, said in October that it was “currently reviewing the requirements for a bid” to become a garden city.
The government is currently accepting ideas from local authorities “for how they wish to develop garden cities” and “how they wish to make use of the existing central government funding and support” as part of its garden city prospectus.
Work on the Bicester scheme is already underway. The development was also one of the last government’s eco towns.