Bracknell Forest Council has been given over two million pounds to help transform ‘brownfield’ sites into vibrant new areas thanks to Government funding.

This week, the Government’s department for levelling up, housing and communities announced that £75 million will be invested across the country to transform derelict and dormant sites into new places to live and work.

Bracknell Forest Council will receive over £2.3 million of this funding on three major projects in Bracknell as part of the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF).

The council is receiving a total of £2,340,266 to facilitate the development of Market Street, the depot site and Opladen Way.

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The majority of the funding, £1.6 million, will go to redeveloping Market Street. The project by Bracknell Forest Council and Countryside Properties involves building 169 homes across three tower blocks – 25 per cent of  which will be affordable. The council the funding will help speed the project up, and hopes it to be complete by autumn 2024.

£570,000 will go to redeveloping the depot site off Old Bracknell Lane West, with part of the site being turned over to new homes,  35 per cent of which will be affordable. The council hopes the homes will be ready for occupants by the end of 2025. The majority of the site will be used for commercial purposes as new offices and warehouses.

Also, £119,000 will be used to create an access road to unlock a piece of tarmacked land, which can be redeveloped in to four single-person homes and two wheelchair accessible homes. It is hoped that these six homes will be completed and ready for occupancy by December 2022. Although the council has not said where this site will be, Opladen Way is identified as a site by the Government.

Celebrating the news, council leader Paul Bettison (Conservative, Little Sandhurst and Wellington), said: “We’re delighted that all our funding bids were successful and that we will be receiving £2.3m to progress three important regeneration projects within the borough.

“Over the next four years, these three projects will collectively see more than 250 new homes built on brownfield sites that were in desperate need of redevelopment. They will not only bring much-needed new homes, including affordable homes, to the borough but will see unsightly and disused pieces of land repurposed and rejuvenated.”

Meanwhile, Wokingham Borough Council has been given £494,000 for its self-build project in Toutley Road East, which involves building 130 ‘energy efficient’ homes and a ‘dementia care home’.

All of the projects mentioned above are subject to planning permission being granted.

Bracknell News: The three tower blocks which form part of the old Bracknell bus station development in Market Street. Credit: Bracknell Forest Cambium PartnershipThe three tower blocks which form part of the old Bracknell bus station development in Market Street. Credit: Bracknell Forest Cambium Partnership

Almost £58 million from the £75 million BLRF has been allocated to 53 councils in this weeks funding allocation. Of that £25 million has been made available to council run and custom build projects. £5 million of that has already been allocated, with councils being encouraged to bid for the remaining £20 million of funding.

Michael Gove MP, the secretary of state for Levelling Up (Conservative, Surrey Heath)  said: “We are levelling up and backing home ownership in every corner of the country, delivering new high-quality, affordable homes and creating thriving places where people want to live, work and visit. Making the most of previously developed land is a government priority and it will help protect our cherished countryside and green spaces.”

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Reacting, Eleanor Bateman policy and campaigning officer at Propertymark, the estate agents members organisation, said: “Historically a lack of funding has meant that surplus local authority land has not been brought forward for development. However, the fact that nearly 80% of the Brownfield Land Release Fund has been taken up shows that councils are keen to release sites that could otherwise be left redundant.

“Rather than underspend on the custom build fund which still has £20 million unallocated, perhaps the UK Government could look to reallocate the monies to the One Public Estate programme which has shown the greatest level of demand.

“The figures also demonstrate that in order to level up and unlock land for potential housing, there needs to be continued support for councils to overcome the barriers linked to upfront costs.”

The One Public Estate is a national government-led initiative which allows councils to bid for funding which can help release public land for development, such as housing.