Preston has been handed a major boost by being named as one of only 20 “housing zones” outside London.
The news, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in this week’s budget, could speed up the building of hundreds of new homes on brownfield land to protect the city’s valuable greenbelt.
Sites like the former Tulketh High School in Ingol, St Paul’s Road in Deepdale and parts of Inner East Preston have already been earmarked for development, with affordable housing a significant part of the plan.
“The council is delighted that its housing zone bid has been successful,” said a town hall spokesman. “This is a another significant boost for Preston which will complement the City Deal, bringing new homes, new investment and new jobs. The council’s bid was for 750 units, based on the city centre. Some of those sites include stalled sites on previously developed land and most are owned by either the city or county council.
“We will focus on the city centre and underused brownfield sites, re-using buildings and redeveloping land in sustainable locations. Bringing people to live in and close to the city centre creates a more lively and vibrant core.”
Housing zones first appeared in London, supported by Mayor Boris Johnson, to address an acute shortage of affordable accommodation in the capital. The Government has now rolled the scheme out to the regions, with Preston, Blackburn-with-Darwen and the Wirral the only zones so far declared in the North West.
Preston is also the only Lancashire council to benefit from a share of a separate £5m fund set aside for brownfield development – it will get just over £100,000. Housing zones, where house building should be easier and quicker, are expected to deliver 45,000 new homes across the UK, 5,500 of those in the North West.