The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced the release of a further £57.8m of Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF) to 53 local authorities. The total fund amounts to £75m. Local authorities can bid for the remaining £17.2m.

Atam Verdi

Atam Verdi

AspinallVerdi has been working with public and private clients to develop effective business cases to enable the drawing down of this funding.

Clients interested in securing such funding need to consider several factors when bidding, including timescale and delivery – the main critical success factor. Is planning permission secured? What are the lead times for start on site? Most central government funding streams want outputs within the lifetime of this parliament, so time is tight!

There is also the issue of value for money and how it is achieved. The demonstration that costs are being competitively tendered is important, while policy compliance, notably on the delivery of affordable housing, will also inform the value for money question. This is not to be confused with the amount of ‘ask’ from the fund, but rather what benefits are being realised from the investment.

Another consideration is business cases. Specifically, Green Book-compliant business cases require options to be evaluated starting with a long list followed by a more focused shortlist – to demonstrate that the ‘preferred option’ provides value for money and ensures deliverability.

Projects well progressed in terms of design and planning are well placed. Constraints should be identified. Specific identified issues related to the ‘brownfield’ tag are important. There are the costs of site preparation, remediation and the provision of infrastructure to enable the site to be developed.

Business cases should be based on the five-case business case model following HM Treasury Green Book guidance. The process requires time, teamwork and coordination. The design/client team needs to bring information together and work on a range of documents for the submission.

The fund is an important opportunity for central and local government to boost housing development without encroaching on contentious greenfield sites. It also plays a crucial role in regenerating urban centres. Brownfield is also sustainable. It is likely that if the government sees projects successfully being brought forward, there could be further funding rounds.

Atam Verdi is chairman of property regeneration consultants AspinallVerdi