House building on former industrial land in Birmingham and Worcestershire is being boosted by a #40 million Government regeneration fund.

Birmingham City Council and the South Worcestershire Planning Steering Group are among 70 local authorities and partnerships awarded Growth Points under a Department for Communities and Local Government scheme to build houses for first-time buyers.

Sites in east and north-west Birmingham and Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon will benefit from the fund, which provides grants to unlock land for low-cost new housing, construct roads and mitigate environmental impacts.

The intention is to make the areas more attractive for business investment and help young people who want to stay in their home town to find a home.

The Government said the initiative was a crucial part of delivering an increase in house-building in England in response to economist Kate Barker’s review of housing supply, which found that over the last 30 years, house-building rates have halved whereas over the same period demand for new homes has increased by a third.

Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said: "If we don’t build more homes, less than a third of today’s ten year-olds will be able to afford a place of their own in 20 years time.

"Helping our towns and cities that want to grow, can make a substantial difference in delivering the new homes we need.

"This gives local areas the chance to provide more jobs and homes with higher design and environmental standards too."

However, Conservatives attacked the points system which they said was part of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's "botched" housing policy that had seen dense blocks of flats built on gardens classed as brownfield sites.

Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning Michael Gove said: "In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for families on modest incomes to buy a home suitable for children to grow up.

"But house prices don’t change in isolation from government policy. Labour’s national planning rules, laid down on high from Whitehall, have created a surplus of poky flats and a shortage of family homes with parking spaces and gardens."

Council leaders in Worcestershire stressed that growth in housing would be tightly controlled.

Alwyn Davies, cabinet member for planning on Worcestershire County Council, said: "Worcester must not stagnate, but growth cannot be at the expense of quality of life."

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