Woodberry Down, London © Berkeley Group
Investing in infrastructure One of the main challenges the Commission encountered in our discussions with local authorities is funding upfront infrastructure investment, which is proving increasingly difficult. Local authorities have various tools at their disposal including Section 106 powers and the Community Infrastructure Levy. However, developers and housing associations suggest their margins are no longer able to provide as much for the community through Section 106 agreements. The Community Infrastructure Levy, as yet untried, seems unlikely to provide sufficient funds for complex brownfield sites.116 Where there is a financial shortfall for necessary infrastructure, the Growing Places Fund is a possible route. And, as we have highlighted, local authority pension funds have strong incentives to create a Local Housing Development Fund.
Securing quality Owning the land used for new housing development, as well as overseeing procurement, gives councils the power to create the high-quality developments consumers need. But they don’t always use it. We heard of numerous instances where local authorities and registered providers were failing to put their weight behind high-quality design and construction. By setting out robust conditions in tenders and prioritising design quality within their assessment, public bodies have the capacity to entrench value of quality and sustainability. Developers can, in effect, become contractors, responsible for executing the vision set out by the procuring authority.
112_ “The great myth of urban Britain” BBC News UK Online, Mark Easton, 28 June 2012 113_ Further details of HCA land and their plans for it are available online at http://www. homesandcommunities.co.uk/ourwork/our-land 114_ Announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 7 May 2012 115_ Demonstrator map published by the Department for Communities and Local Government on 5 August 2011 116_ Tackling housing market volatility in the UK. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2011 and Cities for Growth, Policy Exchange, 2011