David Cameron has defended the decision to stop funding for a major housing scheme to regenerate the site of MG Rover’s former plant.
Ministers have suspended a £3.6 million payment to subsidise the construction of 115 new homes on the former MG Rover site in Longbridge, near Lickey Road.
The development was part of plans to build a total of 1,450 new homes at Longbridge, along with offices, shops and a new college, backed by Birmingham City Council.
But the Prime Minister insisted the last Labour administration had simply promised money that didn’t exist, when he was quizzed by city MP Richard Burden (Lab Northfield) in the House of Commons.
Mr Burden told him: “One of the projects that stands to be affected by the decision of the Government decision to put £600 million worth of housing investment on hold is the housing element of the redevelopment of the Longbridge site in my constituency, which is important not just to that area but to the economic recovery of Birmingham as a whole.
“Given the fact that the project is supported by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition that runs Birmingham City council, will the Prime Minister tell me what priority he will attach to the regenerative effects of housing projects like this?”
Mr Cameron said: “Everyone wants to see regeneration continue in Birmingham and I pay tribute to Birmingham City Council, jointly run by Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, to continue with the very good work they do.
“We want to see that regeneration continue. The problem with the previous government’s housing commitments that they made, particularly with social housing, is that they simply weren’t funded.
“One thing we have been able to do, in making the £6 billion of cuts we have in this years, is to plough back some of that money into social housing schemes which the last government promised but never funded.”
Labour had promised the money under a scheme called Kickstart, which provided subsidies for developments that would usually be funded privately, in an effort to help the construction industry during the economic crisis.
But the Department for Communities and Local Government has now announced it is placing a number of Kickstart schemes “on hold” until the Budget on June 22, when a final decision will be announced.
Other construction projects that had been promised Kickstart funding which is now under review include a 300-home development in the North Priory area, Dudley; and a 320-home development in Walsall town centre, near the canal, known as the Waterfront South development.