The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has announced the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) has secured permission from Europe to operate a residential property focused area regeneration funding scheme.
Nigel Smith, chairman of the RICS Regeneration panel, explained: ‘Until now funding for area regeneration has been largely commercial based with a minority of residential funding. The ODPM has secured permission to operate a residential funding scheme without geographical restriction not limited to those areas with assisted area status.’
The new terms for the grants will be generous and RICS believes up to 60% of the cost of a project could be arranged. The scheme is to be administered by the regeneration body English Partnerships. Previous schemes were administered by local regional development agencies, which have gained a reputation for choosing to build on greenfield sites, for which it is easiest to attract investors.
Smith said: ‘A problem was the Regional Development Agencies have not been implementing the schemes.’
English Partnerships is much more ready to hand out grants to the private sector than the Regional Development Agencies. English Partnerships was nominated for its new role by deputy prime minister John Prescott in July. It has yet to be told any details of the schemes.
Joanne Whitney, PR executive at English Partnerships, said: ‘We are going to be administering such a scheme, but we don’t know the format yet.’
RICS and the ODPM have also announced they are to are to launch a joint online guide to publicise government initiatives which provide assistance to private business and local authorities to develop brownfield sites. This is the key vehicle for achieving John Prescott’s new housing targets ‘ without eating up the greenbelt.
The announcement follows the publication of a House of Commons Transport, Local Government and Regions (DTLR) Select Committee Report on the Need for a New Regeneration Framework.