The new Highways EnglandGrowth & Housing Fund (GHF) is a £100million fund (2016-2021) to be invested in road improvements schemes that are specifically needed to unlock housing and mixed use sites. The document, circulated at the recent Highways England Growth Event, provides further details – including Frequently Asked Questions.
While joint working with partners to deliver schemes on or near to the Strategic Road Network is not new for Highways England, this is the first national Highways England programme predicated on the provision of match funding by third parties – and specifically targeted at the early delivery of jobs and homes.
It’s perhaps important to stress that the GHF is focussed on releasing development sites that are essentially “ready to go” - but that are being held back by a funding shortfall in the highway improvements needed before development can start.
Schemes must be on or near the Strategic Road Network, in advanced stages of planning and design - and be able to demonstrate the ability to deliver substantial numbers of jobs and homes within programme period (by 2021).
Highways England is anticipating investing up to £5million capital per scheme, although larger schemes may be considered where exceptional value for money can demonstrated. All schemes must also demonstrate substantial match funding – and not displace or replace other public funds already in place.
Colleagues at Highways England have been working hard since the announcement of the fund in the Government’s Road Investment Strategy at the end of last year to develop and test the mechanics of the fund. This has included identifying a small number of “pilot” match-funded schemes over the summer, and engaging widely with partner agencies and the development sector on the criteria and overall approach.
Highways England plan to send full details, including guidance, proposal form and other standard materials out to the Local Enterprise Partnerships early in the new year, with an indicative closing date in Spring 2016.