On 26 October Government announced the details of a £10million capacity fund for ‘business backed’ development corporations and ‘similar delivery bodies’.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP announced that the fund, originally outlined in the 2018 Autumn Budget, would be made available via a competition for up to 10 ‘transformational housing and growth opportunities’ to explore a range of delivery options. The fund will be available for a 3-year period from 2019/2020, with applications welcome on a rolling basis. This will include a new Development Corporation at Toton in Nottinghamshire, to be led by the former chairman of Burberry, Sir John Peace.

A consultation on Development Corporation reform (Deadline 21 December) was launched alongside the competition.

The TCPA is delighted that the Government has recognised the potential role of Development Corporations to transform large-scale housing delivery, and reforming the legislation is a huge opportunity to make them fit-for-purpose, but it is important not to repeat the mistakes of the past. 

TCPA Director of Communities & Project Delivery, Katy Lock, said:

The TCPA is a strong advocate of using modernised New Town Development Corporations to drive the delivery of highly sustainable new communities, but this requires Government to maintain a leading role in the process. The private sector has an important role to play in Development Corporations, which require up-front investment and a long-term patient approach to finance, but Government must lead the process to ensure democratic accountability and legitimacy.

'Our research has demonstrated that modernising Development Corporations should focus on reforming their objectives, public participation requirements and meeting duties such as those aimed at tackling climate change.  Without these changes we risk missing an opportunity to harness the potential of these powerful bodies to deliver quality places and speed up the delivery of genuinely affordable homes[1]

Katy added:

The provision of capacity funding to enable councils to consider options for delivery is welcomed but a competition process highlights the lack of wider policy support setting out a strategic approach to understanding need and location as part of a wider approach to rebalancing the economy.

The TCPA looks forward to engaging with the Ministry on the consultation and working with authorities who are interested in the capacity fund. 


Notes to editors

[1] The TCPA has spent the last nine years exploring the lessons of what worked and what didn’t when New Town Development Corporations were last used (read our research here). For an overview of the role of Development Corporations in delivering new communities today, see our Practical Guide on Finance and Delivery, here. For a detailed consideration of how the New Towns Act might be amended please see ‘New Towns Act 2015?’ available here.