New grant launched to help communities in South Gloucestershire cope with extra housing

COMMUNITIES struggling to cope with increasing housing numbers will receive a welcome boost thanks to the creation of a new grant.

The New Housing Bonus was introduced last year by the coalition government and is designed to support expanding villages and towns as they face new challenges.

Groups and organisations in the Severn Vale area are now being invited to bid for a share of the £100,000 available.

They will have to prove that new housing in their neighbourhood or town has created a need for funds to be injected in a particular venue or project.

With more and more developments sprouting in the region, communities have been struggling to accommodate newcomers in small village halls and inadequate facilities among other issues.

District councillor for Thornbury and Severn Vale Area Forum member Neil Halsall said: "It’s supposed to alleviate the stress put on communities by new housing. We are looking for additions to community facilities, bids for leisure, sport, traffic measures."

At a meeting in February, South Gloucestershire Council agreed to use 70 per cent of the New Homes Bonus allocated to the region by central government to support existing projects and to protect frontline services. The remaining 30 per cent was set aside for grant applications from local communities at the heart of housing growth.

Members of the area forum will be in charge of distributing the funds--approximately £100,000 per year for the next six years, and are still discussing the criteria they will consider while making their final decision.

A few general principles have however been agreed on for the time being. There will also be no upper limit on bids.

If bids are made to fund a salary—for example if a village decides a new PCSO is needed—grants towards wages will be allocated for one year only, not on a six-year basis.

Applications to expand community facilities will be welcome, although any bidder will have to show their project has community backing.

Grants could be handed out as early as March.

To find out more about the New Housing Bonus visit www.southglos.gov.uk

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