Wilmslow area set to receive £173,000 from New Homes Bonus for community projects


Cheshire East Council has agreed to share a £2m New Homes Bonus between communities across the borough.

The New Homes Bonus is a grant paid by central government to local councils to reflect and incentivise housing growth in their areas. It is based on the amount of extra Council Tax revenue raised for new-build homes, conversions and long-term empty homes brought back into use.

The Council has decided to group the parishes according to the Area Highway Groups and allocate £50,000 to each of the seven areas.

A balance of £2m will then be allocated on the basis of the increase in number of house completions between 2011 and 2017.

As a result the Wilmslow area, which includes Alderley Edge, is set to receive £173,462 with the local ward councillors deciding how the pot of money is spent and what the community priorities are.

Groups will be able to bid for a share of the New Homes Bonus Community Fund for community projects such as sport schemes; transport schemes; enhanced library provision; allotments or orchards; energy schemes or youth schemes. Other examples of suitable projects include small scale flood protection schemes; homelessness prevention projects; small parks improvements and road safety improvements.

There is an expectation that projects will make a visible impact in the local community so for this reason the Council has set a minimum allocation per project of £10,000.

Speaking at the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Thursday, 5th April, Jan Willis, Interim Executive Director of Corporate Services, explained that all bids must clearly demonstrate how they will support the Council's strategic outcomes and how they will enhance service delivery and provide tangible benefits for the local community.

It was also proposed that funds must be spent by the end of the 2019-20 financial year, with any unspent funds clawed back and reallocated, but some members of the scrutiny committee requested this was changed as they felt it was unrealistic to expect all projects at a parish level, many of which would be carried out by community organisations, to be completed within two years.

A council task group is drawing up a final design for the New Homes Bonus Community Fund and a report is expected to go before the council's cabinet in June. Allocations will be apportioned in line with the recognised highways areas of Congleton, Crewe, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Poynton and Wilmslow.

All bids will be scored for their community value, volunteering, outcomes and value for money. Bids are not required until the scheme is formally launched in the summer and more information will be published nearer the time.

Councillor Paul Bates, cabinet member for finance and communication, said: "The New Homes Bonus Community Fund is designed to ensure that all parts of the borough benefit from the significant housing growth we have seen in recent years.

"We will be inviting communities, with the help of elected ward members, to engage with how services are delivered at a local level and put forward their ideas for how they would like to see the money spent.

"This funding is not in any way connected with local developer contributions for highways schemes or other infrastructure needs.

"There is a national and local demand for new homes and the New Homes Bonus Scheme is an incentive to councils and communities to help meet that demand."

More than 5,600 homes have been built in Cheshire East since 2011 and the funding allocations will be weighted to reflect those areas of the borough where large scale house building has taken place.

Cheshire East Council, New Homes Bonus