District hoping to land £6million housing cash

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SOUTH Holland could pocket up to £6million from a new deal to reward house building, according to district council leader Gary Porter.

Last week housing minister Grant Shapps unveiled plans to begin a “revolution” in housebuilding by offering councils a New Homes Bonus for the properties built in their area.

The bonus would see the Government match the council tax raised from new homes for six years – with an extra bonus worth about £350 more for affordable homes.

Government figures suggest that would mean a payment of about £354,880 to South Holland District Council and £2,129,278 over six years – but Coun Porter is confident that the deal can be worth much more.

He said: “If we get the construction industry back to where it should be, probably in the next two years or so, then we are probably looking at £6million over a six-year period so it is seriously big bucks.

“We’ve been working hard on this for about two years.”

The Government figures were based on the “increases in effective stock” between October 2009 and October 2010, which includes empty homes being brought back into use. The figure for South Holland was 392.

Coun Porter said the policy was first dreamt up while the Conservative Party were in opposition and he has been lobbying to ensure that the money ends up with district councils rather than county councils – which made a late bid to get it.

The cash will be split with 80 per cent to district and 20 per cent to county councils.

He added: “God knows where it would have disappeared to if the county council had got it. At least if it comes to us people know it gets used to empty the bins every week.”

South Kesteven District Council’s figures are to get £665,623 in the first year and £3,993,740 in six years, based on 648 new homes in 09/10. Boston Borough Council’s figures are £152,110 in the first year and £912,657 in six.

Mr Shapps said: “To kick start a housebuilding revolution development needs to be backed by local communities rather than opposed by them.

“That’s why we are introducing powerful new incentives giving communities a reason to say yes to new homes.”