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Councils invited to bid for brownfield funding

Local authorities around the country are being invited to bid for government assistance to construct thousands of homes on brownfield land.Housing minister Brandon Lewis has published the bidding criteria for a share of £200 million to facilitate the creation of ten housing zones that will make it easier to build properties.It is hoped these measures will help to deliver between 750 and 2,000 new homes, complementing plans for 20 new housing zones in the capital.Mr Lewis said the creation of these designated areas for brownfield sites would stimulate the rate of construction while protecting the British countryside."The new dedicated housing zones will transform disused and derelict land, and ensure the new homes are built quickly in a process that is more straightforward for councils and builders," he added.Councils applying for the funding will have to demonstrate a commitment to building the homes quickly and make the most of innovative techniques such as off-site construction and custom-build.The housing minister cited the example of LoCal homes in Walsall, which builds new, high-quality, affordable homes in as little as one day by using off-site construction.Bidders should also consider whether their applications can make use of other government-backed initiatives, such as the housing revenue account borrowing programme and the Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund.A range of other measures has also been unveiled by the government to help boost the rate of construction on brownfield sites.The top-down regional strategies of the previous administration, which had earmarked greenbelt land for new developments, have been abolished. This has helped to ensure the level of development in such areas is at its lowest since modern records began in 1989.It has also introduced a new Right to Contest, which enables the public to challenge the government to sell land that is not being used optimally, and has sold enough publicly-owned surplus brownfield land for 100,000 new homes by 2015.Enough previously-developed land exists around the country to provide space for 200,000 extra homes and ministers want to see planning permissions covering 90 per cent of this area by 2020. 

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