Housing 2020: Lord Agnew lauds OPE in £30m announcement

Lord Agnew has lauded the national One Public Estate (OPE) programme, arguing that public and private sector partnership will play a key role in the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19.

Speaking today at the Chartered Institute for Housing (CIH)’s virtual Housing festival, Agnew sang the praises of the partnership between the Office of Government Property (OGP) in the Cabinet Office and the Local Government Association (LGA), saying it is ‘literally changing the landscape’ across the country.

Announcing £30 million of new funding for OPE, the minister of state for the Cabinet Office and the Treasury hinted the programme could help deliver more carbon neutral homes and deliver on the government’s pledge to ‘build back better’.

Here, Agnew pointed to OPE’s role in supporting projects such as the Griffin regeneration area in Blackburn, which will deliver 140 mid-market family homes, and a new multi-million-pound health and wellbeing campus in Burnholme, York.

“Success stories like this show the power we have to change people’s lives when [we] work as one,” Agnew said.

The OPE programme – which involves 95% of local authorities in England – provides support and seed funding to help councils use their assets more efficiently and release land for housing and development.

Since its launch in 2013, it has helped public sector partners generate £370 million in capital receipts, created over 23,000 new jobs and released land for over 14,000 new homes.

Since 2017 the OPE programme has also delivered the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG)’s Land Release Fund (LRF) which enables councils to bring forward their surplus land for housing development.

Lord Agnew confirmed that MHCLG are set to provide £30 million of new funding to accelerate housing delivery, comprising £20 million of capital grant under the LRF and £10 million OPE revenue grant for public sector land and property projects.

Projects targeting smaller sites that require up-front funding to get started will be prioritised for LRF grant funding, he added.

OPE partnerships are invited to coordinate bids for their area, while both new and existing OPE partnerships are welcome to apply for funding.

The LGA has now published the prospectus for partnership applications and the government is confident the funding will help lead to ‘rapid results’ across the country, Agnew concluded.

“The LGA and MHCLG offer invaluable support and funding, but I’m particularly grateful to local authorities […] and public sector partners who are delivering these ambitions on the ground and changing people’s lives for the better,” he added.

Image: Lord Agnew, minister of state for the Cabinet Office and the Treasury. Credit: UK Government

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