The Labour-run boroughs of Haringey and Waltham Forest are among the biggest beneficiaries of government funding to help local authorities in England clear derelict and underused land in preparation for building new housing, with six other boroughs also sharing in the £58 million national pot.
Haringey has been awarded £3.89 million and Waltham Forest £3,37 million – the second and third largest allocations in the country after Exeter with just under £6 million.
Barnet will receive £1.78 million and Camden £1.56 million from the Brownfield Land Release Fund, which comes under the control of the newly-formed department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, led by Michael Gove. Richmond will get £85o,000 Kensington & Chelsea £509,000, Lewisham £386,00 and Greenwich £350,000.
A total of 53 English local authorities have been allotted funds, which the government says will enable the future construction of 5,600 dwellings in all. Local authorities are required to maintain and publish registers of brownfield land in their areas suitable for residential and mixed-use development.
Simon Miller, Waltham Forest’s cabinet member for economic growth and housing development described the funding as providing “a fantastic opportunity for us” and said it would “contribute to nine pivotal projects across the borough, delivering housing schemes with real community benefits, creating new jobs and apprenticeships for local people and revitalising neighbourhoods for the community.”
In a statement accompanying the announcement, Gove said, “We are levelling up and backing home ownership in every corner of the country, delivering new, high quality affordable homes and creating thriving places where people want to live, work and visit”, adding that helping development on brownfield sites would “help protect our cherished countryside and green spaces”.
Gove’s mention of “every corner of the country” may provide some hope that the capital will not be wholly excluded from the government’s “levelling up” agenda, which has been been criticised as vague and is seen by many in London government as essentially a political project designed to gratify anti-London sentiment among voters in other parts of the country.
Prior to the recent Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Gove indicated that “levelling up” would be designed to ensure that people who voted to leave the European Union in the 2106 referendum did not feel let down. A majority of Londoners voted to remain in the EU. A long-awaited levelling up white paper is promised for later this year.
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