Delivery of economic infrastructure to enable and support new housing developments is vital. While there is an accepted need to build more homes, there is much scope within the current system to consider infrastructure more strategically.
ICE’s State of the Nation 2019: Connecting infrastructure with housing report makes 10 recommendations that, taken together, can bring about a broad reform to the way infrastructure is delivered with housing, while taking advantage of the technological and climate-led opportunities to come.
The recommendations are:
- The UK government should evolve the role of subnational transport bodies in England to incorporate other economic infrastructure and their interactions with housing to create subnational infrastructure bodies.
- The subnational infrastructure bodies should be tasked with creating integrated regional infrastructure strategies that include housing. These should go beyond individual political cycles, both national and local, be cross-sectoral and evidence-based. Across England, these strategies should feed into the National Infrastructure Strategy to ensure effective integration of infrastructure and housing planning across boundaries and at local, regional and national scales.
- The UK government should amend the charter of the National Infrastructure Commission to include housing alongside economic infrastructure, allowing more joined-up, long-term and evidence-based strategies on housing and infrastructure requirements.
- The UK government should amend the Development Consent Order (DCO) process to enable large-scale housing developments of 5,000 or more homes to be delivered under it, ensuring greater coordination of housing delivery with nationally significant infrastructure, business and commercial projects.
Funding and financing
- Regulators should build greater flexibility into the utilities’ regulated asset base model so that appropriate consideration can be given to providing infrastructure for permitted new housing developments outside of price control periods.
- The Housing Infrastructure Fund in England should be extended beyond 2023–24 and moved to a continuous programme of funding, as opposed to defined bidding rounds. Consideration should also be given to ring-fencing a specific amount of funding for areas of lower land value to ensure more strategic sites nationwide are unlocked for housing development.
- The Scottish Housing Infrastructure Fund, Rural Housing Fund and Islands Housing Fund should be continued beyond 2021 in order to sustain the momentum generated by the More Homes Scotland programme.
- The Welsh government should consider establishing its own version of a Housing Infrastructure Fund in order to unlock strategic sites for development, drawing on the principles of the Well-being of Future Generations Act.
- The UK government’s commitment in 2018 to develop a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff that allows local authorities to pool resources to fund specific strategic infrastructure must be carried through by the new administration.
- The next National Infrastructure Assessment should identify options for future-proofing new housing developments and strengthening existing communities, ensuring that decisions are strongly linked to the transformation in transport, water, energy and digital infrastructure that technology will enable and climate change will demand. This should feed into developing and iterating the Future Homes Standard in England.
State of the Nation 2019: Connecting infrastructure with housing
Content type: State of the Nation