Yorkshire’s infrastructure winners as Treasury backs house building

A MULTI-BILLION pound infrastructure plan has been unveiled as the Treasury reveals it will start paying developers to build homes.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander arrives at Downing Street for the Cabinet meeting

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has outlined the Government’s latest infrastructure plan as the coalition builds up to tomorrow’s Autumn Statement.

M Alexander, who claimed around 300,000 new homes a year were needed, said a shortfall in construction meant the Government had to “think radically” and consider using taxpayers’ money.

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“The message to the housebuilding sector would be simple: if you don’t build them, we will,” he said.

Launching the National Infrastructure Plan, which also includes details of £15 billion of road projects, £2.3bn of flood defences and a range of energy programmes, Mr Alexander said the Government had to act to address the housing shortage.

In Yorkshire the plan will mean that of a previously announced £5.8bn highways fund, £490m will be made available to the region for road repairs.

There is also a promise in the infrastructure document to work with the rail industry to back its electrification in the north report due in February.

The Government has also allocated £260m of flood defence cash to Yorkshire and the Humber.

Mr Alexander said £100m was being made available for the new garden city at Ebbsfleet, ministers will back the development of a 13,000-home new town at Bicester, in Oxfordshire, and the extension of the London Overground to Barking Riverside will help unlock the construction of up to 11,000 properties.

The affordable homes programme will also be extended for a further two years, Mr Alexander said.

But in order to meet the demand for 300,000 new homes a year “requires us to think radically”.

“An idea that I have been promoting is direct government commissioning of housing. Government - national or local - would take responsibility for ensuring the number of homes we need each year.

“The message to the housebuilding sector would be simple: if you don’t build them, we will.”

There will be a detailed review to examine the potential of direct government commissioning and the Homes and Communities Agency will lead on delivering up to 10,000 new properties at the former RAF base at Northstowe in Cambridgeshire to trial the model.

“Now it’s just a disused RAF base but soon it will be a development of up to 10,000 homes thanks to the pioneering action this Government has taken in trialling the new delivery model,” Mr Alexander said.

“This is the first time in a generation that the Government has owned land, led the development on it at this scale and considered commissioning homes directly.”