At Riverside, we feel the flagship Levelling-Up and Regeneration Bill (LURB) does not go far enough to enable local authorities to deliver homes, particularly affordable homes, in the areas where they are needed to support economic growth.
We also believe the statutory purpose of Homes England should be changed to ensure it prioritises investment to support levelling-Up, for example by increasing funding for affordable housing in lower value areas where lower levels of Infrastructure Levy will be generated.
In order to deliver the true level of affordable housing needed to address social and economic objectives, the bill should be amended so that local authorities are required to set the Levy to achieve the objectively assessed level of affordable housing, rather than just replicating past levels of delivery, which are historically low in areas requiring levelling-up, and have been steadily declining.
In addition the purpose of the infrastructure delivery strategy (a new requirement placed on local authorities through the bill) should be expanded, so that it must set out plans to deliver the new affordable homes set out in the local plan. This would include agreeing an investment strategy with Homes England, where levy receipts will be insufficient. We recommend the creation of an explicit link between the levy charging schedule, the infrastructure delivery strategy and the local plan.
Homes England must align its strategy with the government’s levelling-Up ambitions and its strategic objectives must reflect this. By including a requirement to reduce regional inequality within the statutory objects of Homes England, this will make the government’s housing accelerator an active force for delivering levelling-Up.