Homes plan '£6b short of funding'

GOVERNMENT plans to build more than 200,000 new homes in Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire could be put in “jeopardy” by a £6billion black hole in funding for vital infrastructure, according to a report published today.

GOVERNMENT plans to build more than 200,000 new homes in Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire could be put in “jeopardy” by a £6billion black hole in funding for vital infrastructure, according to a report published today.

The report, commissioned by ten counties in the South East of England, says that as Whitehall embarks on a massive new house-building programme in the eastern region, “our infrastructure is creaking” and “this is no time for muddled thinking”.

Economists Roger Tym and Partners claim infrastructure costs to support the housing plans for the three counties look set to total £18.5 billion by 2021.

But taking into account all central government funding and private contributions from developers, there will be a funding gap of £6.1 billion.


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The Tym report says the two largest costs will be the need to supply transport infrastructure worth £9.2 billion in the three counties by 2021 and £6.4billion of affordable housing.

But other services including schools, hospitals, cemeteries and sewerage will also come under huge pressure as the population increases by more than 321,000 within 16 years.

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Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield said last night his fears – and predictions – had been confirmed.

“We have been saying all along that there needs to be a massive investment in transport infrastructure to support the number of new homes that are being suggested for Essex,” he said.

“But it's important we don't forget the strain on other public services that excessive new homes will bring.

“The three eastern counties covered in the report will need £171 million of sports facilities alone.”

He also said there would be cashflow problems as developers, who will make contributions under special “Section 106” deals, tend to pay up as their work proceeds rather than up front.

He said this would put further pressure on transport infrastructure programmes, which needs capital in advance, adding: “Essex County Council will obviously continue to fight against development without infrastructure.”

The Tym report looked at pressures of the South East Plan and the costs of implementing the East of England Plan in Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, including unitary authorities in Luton, Thurrock and Southend.

It identified a range of public services that will need substantial capital investment if they are to meet the needs of the incoming population.

These include health facilities, primary and secondary schools, libraries, waste disposal, play spaces and flood defence.

Even cemeteries will need to be expanded to cope the growing population, the report points out.

However, the report does not include funding on national infrastructure projects including motorways, national rail infrastructure and the potential expansion of Stansted Airport.

A spokesman for the ODPM said last night that he could not comment on the report's findings until he had seen them, but insisted the funding for infrastructure would be provided.

He said the Government would not repeat the mistakes of past administrations whereby money was handed out in a piecemeal fashion.

“We announced in January a multi-billion pound package in a five-year plan that would provide funds for things like roads, schools and hospitals.

“It will be very much a package of funding. On top of that we expect developers and local authorities to secure special section 106 affordable housing agreements.”

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