Ministers have set out plans to prioritise building new homes in England’s cities as they aim to build 300,000 dwellings a year while protecting the countryside.
The government said on Wednesday that the proposals will encourage cities to plan for more family homes and to take advantage of vacant buildings and underused land to protect green spaces.
The plans aim to encourage more building in the nation’s 20 largest cities to help revitalise high streets in the recovery from the coronavirus crisis that has hammered retailers. Ministers will also revise the “80/20” rule that guides funding to ensure it is not concentrated in London and south-east England.
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated and magnified patterns that already existed, creating a generational opportunity for the repurposing of offices and retail as housing and for urban renewal.
“We want this to be an opportunity for a new trajectory for our major cities – one which helps to forge a new country beyond Covid – which is more beautiful, healthier, more prosperous, more neighbourly and where more people have the security and dignity of a home of their own.”
Plans include a £100m “brownfield land release fund” to promote urban regeneration and development on public sector land.
Ministers were also allocating more than £67m in funding to the West Midlands and Greater Manchester authorities to deliver new homes.
The Conservatives pledged to build 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s in their election manifesto.