One Public Estate: Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF2) Round 3 – fund details


Key dates

  • Open to applications 
  • Closing date: 23:59 on Wednesday 14 February 2024

Overview

Since 2017, One Public Estate (OPE) has partnered with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to deliver the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF) and its predecessor the Land Release Fund (LRF): DLUHC funded programmes that enable councils to bring forward their surplus land for new homes.

One Public Estate is a partnership between the Office of Government Property (OGP) in the Cabinet Office (CO), the Local Government Association (LGA) and DLUHC. Our aim is to bring public sector bodies together in order to create better places; to use public assets more efficiently, create service and financial benefits, and release land for development to create new homes and jobs for communities. 

At the Spending Review 2021, the Chancellor announced a £1.8 billion package of investment to regenerate communities and level-up the country, unlocking new homes on derelict and underused brownfield land.

As part of this, up to £180 million Brownfield Land Release Fund 2 (BLRF2) capital grant funding was made available to all English councils to support the release of council-owned brownfield land for housing. The first two rounds of BLRF2 awarded almost £100m over 2022/23 and 2023/24 to release land for almost 8,600 homes by March 2027.

The third and final round of BLRF2 is now open, offering up to £80 million for English councils to apply through their OPE Partnerships

Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) are eligible, as are their constituent councils. The Greater London Authority (GLA) is also eligible, but please note this relates to the GLA only and does not comprise the whole GLA Group.

BLRF2 will support levelling up ambitions by releasing land for new homes. The fund will support regeneration in places that need it, restoring a sense of community and local pride and spreading opportunity across England so that every place can realise its potential. 

BLRF2 funding can be provided alongside other government funding to unlock brownfield projects: in such cases the assessment of value for money will take all government funding into account. Further information is provided throughout the Fund Details and the Technical Annex (TA) and we would encourage you to contact your OPE Regional Team to discuss further. 

OPE Partnerships are invited to coordinate applications within their areas for BLRF2 Round 3. Up to £80m of funding is available for award during 2024/25. 

To give Partnerships a sense of the diversity of projects coming forward under BLRF2 Round 2, examples include;

  • Hull – £980,000 to release land at a former school site to deliver 99 new homes for affordable rent as part of the city’s regeneration drive.
  • Newcastle upon Tyne – £1.82 million to boost wider regeneration by releasing a complex site to deliver 146 new build-to-rent homes for communities in Benwell and Scotswood.
  • Bognor Regis – £628,000 will unlock an £8 million scheme to rejuvenate a listed town centre building, delivering 35 new homes and improved retail space to support local regeneration.
  • Sunderland – £1.81m to transform and remediate a former riverside industrial site to create a new urban quarter at Farringdon Row in Sunderland delivering 140 new high quality low carbon, build-to-rent homes.
  • Rochdale – £271,000 funding has unlocked delivery of 14 purpose-built homeless and supported accommodation units on a former car park and garage site.
  • Somerset – £213,800 to demolish existing rundown garages and deliver 11 low-carbon one, two and three bedroom affordable homes subject to securing planning permission. 

To find out more about past BLRF/LRF projects, including more case studies of previously successful projects, visit www.local.gov.uk/onepublicestate.

Introduction

The delivery of high quality new homes across England is a national priority for the UK Government. This is supported by many councils who are increasingly taking a more hands-on role in the delivery of homes in order to meet local needs and address their placemaking priorities. 

BLRF2 enables councils to unlock otherwise unviable brownfield land for new homes, at the same time supporting the UK Government’s levelling up ambitions by regenerating local places, reducing geographical inequalities, and empowering local leaders to build pride in place. 

About the fund

Since 2017 LRF and BLRF have accelerated the release of council-owned land for over 5,000 homes to help increase the public sector contribution to land supply and drive innovation in housebuilding. The programme currently supports 430 live projects on council-owned land that are on track to release land for around a further 18,500 homes by 31 March 2027.

The programme is unique in targeting council-owned small and medium sized sites that have been previously developed, and where viability issues have prevented their redevelopment. BLRF2 allows councils to determine the type, tenure and delivery mechanism for the new homes, drawing on their understanding of local needs. Funding support can enable delivery at pace by bridging these viability challenges and accelerating the release of land for new homes.

Aims and objectives

The aims of BLRF2 are to: 

  • release council-owned land within three years of receiving funding, for housing development that otherwise would not come forward during that period
  • encourage the use of public assets to drive innovative delivery, where possible supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) / Low and Medium Volume Builders (LMVBs), creating new delivery models, supporting high-quality design and adopting modern methods of construction
  • demonstrate a return for government investment into these small sites.

Our definition of what constitutes ‘land released’ is set out under ‘Deliverability and Mitigation of Risk’ further below 

The funding will provide up-front capital to address viability issues arising from abnormal costs of the proposed development. The type of abnormal costs requiring funding may include, but is not limited to: 

  • site levelling, groundworks, demolition, remediation
  • provision of small-scale infrastructure
  • highways works or other access challenges
  • addressing environmental constraints
  • external works, substructure and piling
  • asbestos removal
  • sewer diversions.

More details on eligible and ineligible costs can be found under ‘Deliverability and Mitigation of Risk’ below. 

For BLRF2, land can be defined as “released” when:

a) an unconditional contract, development agreement or building licence with a private sector partner is signed, or a freehold or leasehold transfer takes place;

b) land has transferred to a development vehicle owned, or partly owned, by the local authority; or

c) the point at which development begins on site if (a) and (b) have not happened; 

d) in the case of self and custom-build, if (a), (b) or (c) do not apply, land is released when contracts are exchanged on the first plot.

Following on from previous Self and Custom Build (SCB) funding, BLRF2 will continue to support councils to bring forward serviced self and custom build plots on brownfield land where this can be delivered in line with the fund criteria. This will be reflected in the assessment of the scheme. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the UK Government’s definition of self and custom build.

How the fund is operating

The UK Government made up to £180 million of capital grant funding available under BLRF2 to unlock and accelerate the release of homes. The funding spans three years from 2022/23 to 2024/25. Up to £80 million will be available in 2024/25 through this third and final round: BLRF2 Round Three. 

BLRF2 is aimed at small and medium sized sites that can release land swiftly with funding support, reflecting the programme’s primary aim for land to be released within 3 years of receiving the funding. This should be an important consideration for applicants.   

There is no fixed lower or upper limit for each application in terms of homes or site size. As a guide, the average size of a successful BLRF2 Round Two project was 63 homes, while the median was 25 homes. We would expect the majority of applications to be under £2 million. 

Should a council feel there is a strong strategic case for a larger bid, exemplary evidence of the deliverability, risk management and project governance approaches to assure land release by 31 March 2028 will be required. 

Timelines

BLRF2 Round 3 will close for applications at 23:59 on Wednesday 14 February 2024.

OPE Partnerships and councils are strongly encouraged to work with their OPE Regional Team in developing their bids to make these as strong as possible. 

OPE Partnerships may submit an application at any time up to the closing date.


Round 3: Up to £80m available

Deadline for applications 14 February 2024

Decision on applications and announcement of funding awards Summer 2024

Works contracts for BLRF2-funded activity signed by 31 March 2025

Land release deadline by 31 March 2028

This is the final round of funding for the BLRF2 programme. 

All councils awarded funding will be required to sign a Grant Funding Agreement (GFA). A draft version is available under ‘How to Apply’.

Application criteria

BLRF2 is open to all councils across England, specifically: Borough, County, District, London Borough, Metropolitan Borough, and Unitary Councils. Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) are eligible, as are their constituent councils. The Greater London Authority (GLA) is also eligible, but please note this relates to the GLA only and does not comprise the whole GLA Group.

Applications must be coordinated by the OPE Partnership and submitted via the designated accountable body of your local OPE Partnership. We welcome concise, clearly structured, and well-referenced proposals. 

Our assessment will be based on the material provided within the Application Form, Basic Details form and Technical Annex. We will also use published place-based information, to help prioritise applications from places most in need of levelling up.

There is no limit to the number of applications that a council can submit, though councils should factor in their ability to deliver all schemes to the required timescales, should all be successful. Each application must relate to an individual site, although we would accept sites that are divided by roads, provided these do not create a significant barrier between parcels of land and sites that would otherwise be contiguous. Multi-site, portfolio applications are not eligible for this funding route.

We encourage applicants to review the FAQs, where further information and definitions can be found. These will be updated throughout the application window as queries are raised by applicants. Before applying, applicants should read the Fund Details, Technical Annex and accompanying guidance, FAQs, Application Form and other supporting documents. 

All applications will be jointly assessed by the OGP, LGA and DLUHC.

The assessment process will follow three stages, as detailed below:

  • Eligibility criteria
  • Gateway criteria
  • Project prioritisation criteria

Eligibility criteria (pass/fail)

Applications will only be considered if the following criteria are satisfied:

  1. The land to which the application relates to is previously developed land (brownfield land) as defined in the Glossary (Annex 2) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).    
  2. The land is in council ownership at the point of application. For BLRF2 applications that are part of a larger project, or a project where there may be multiple landowners involved, BLRF2 can only fund works on (or in respect of releasing) the council-owned land.
  3. The project must undertake capital works on council-owned land only; funding is not available for works already undertaken or contracted before the Grant Funding Agreement is signed by all parties. 
  4. The applicant must ensure any works contracts for BLRF2 Round 3 funded activity are signed by 31 March 2025 and evidence of this should be provided to OPE by 14 April 2025. All councils awarded funding will be required to sign a Grant Funding Agreement (GFA). 
  5. The project must be able to release land by 31 March 2028. 
  6. The council has a general or specialised housing need. 
  7. The council’s S151 Officer or Chief Executive must sign the application. 
  8. The council or OPE Partnership must notify relevant local MPs of their submitted application.
  9. The OPE Partnership must:
  • operate an effective partnership board.
  • continue to ensure updates regarding all land and property assets (except social housing stock) owned by partnership councils and public sector partners are undertaken on the ePIMS Lite system (or its successor) by the end of the financial year in which any BLRF2 funding is awarded, and annually thereafter. The OPE Programme continues to require applicants’ commitment to updating ePIMS on an annual basis.
  • adhere to reporting requirements, by providing regular data on project progress and benefits delivery updates - currently this is required three times a year, and
  • consent to the sharing of application documents for the purposes of assessing the bid application. The documents will be shared with LGA, OGP, and DLUHC, and may be shared with other Government Departments as required. Documents will be stored in line with GDPR requirements. 

Gateway criteria (pass/fail)

If the project passes the eligibility criteria, it will be considered against the following gateway criteria:

  • evidence of value for money
  • evidence of market failure
  • evidence of deliverability and mitigation of risk.

Eligible costs 

BLRF2 funding will provide upfront capital investment in order to create a viable project and can cover abnormal costs that may include:

  • site levelling, groundworks, demolition, remediation
  • provision of small-scale infrastructure
  • highways works or other access challenges
  • addressing environmental constraints
  • external works, substructure and piling
  • asbestos removal
  • sewer diversions.

Physical works for site activation (such as hoardings, welfare facilities, skips etc.) can be included but not any associated revenue costs.   

This is not an exhaustive list but if proposed expenditure does not fall into these categories, please contact your OPE Partnership Lead or Regional Programme Manager for further advice. 

Ineligible costs

BLRF2 covers capital costs for abnormal works that address the defined market failures and will unlock the site for development within the specified timescales. The following are not eligible for funding through BLRF2: 

  • revenue costs, such as officer time; work management fees, professional fees, planning fees and planning consultancy, design fees, highways inspection and management, plus project management including revenue costs associated with site activation
  • early stage feasibility studies
  • community engagement
  • off-site infrastructure unless directly related and proportionate to the scheme
  • design/planning costs
  • procurement costs
  • costs related to the construction of the housing
  • most site investigations unless directly associated with facilitating another eligible cost. 

This is not an exhaustive list, your OPE Partnership Programme Manager or Regional Programme Manager can help with any specific queries for costs not listed above.

Applicants should recognise the potential for cost inflation between the date of application and the delivery of works and should base cost estimates on the projected delivery period.  The BLRF2 programme will not cover cost overruns. 

Evidencing costs

Evidence of the cost and duration of works to be covered by BLRF2 must be provided. For larger projects delivering significant on site or off-site infrastructure, quotes for the work with any supporting information would be helpful. If this information is currently unavailable, indicative budgets should be supported by evidence of comparable works or information from other recognised data sources to justify these assumptions. 

2.1 Value for Money     

The Technical Annex provides a tool for calculating the approximate economic costs and benefits generated by a new housing development for a project applying for BLRF2. It makes use of broad assumptions and will not be able to account for all site-specific characteristics.

Applications must achieve at least an “Acceptable” final Value for Money category to pass the VfM gateway criteria. This is when a scheme is consistent with a Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) of 1.0 or above after both the BCR and Non-Monetised Impacts (NMIs) are considered.

For BLRF2 Round 3, the BCR calculation within the TA includes two additional benefits. The first values the removal of disamenity caused by undeveloped brownfield land and the associated impacts. The second includes, where required, the wider area placemaking impacts of developing on brownfield land for larger urban regeneration schemes of at least 50 units. These changes should have a positive impact in supporting projects to demonstrate an “Acceptable” VfM category, for example, in urban areas where there may also be low land values. Please refer to the Value for Money Guidance to determine if this is likely to apply to your scheme. 

In addition to these benefits, identifying Non Monetised Impacts (NMIs) can support an application to demonstrate an ‘Acceptable’ VfM category by evidencing those additional social and community benefits from the project that are not monetised in the BCR. The collective impact and evidence for NMIs, alongside the initial BCR score, will be assessed upon submission.

Further guidance on how to complete the Technical Annex is set out in the Value for Money Guidance. This includes information required to assess the wider area (placemaking) impacts of a project and evidence for NMIs. 

Economic Appraisal: Benefit Cost Ratio and initial Value for Money Category

Part 1 of the economic appraisal will be based on the present value social economic benefits of a project, divided by its present value costs to the public sector. This will generate a Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR).

BLRF2 is targeted at releasing council-owned brownfield land suitable for housing development. The following economic benefits of releasing this land will be monetised:

  • Land value uplift, which represents the economic benefits of converting land to a more productive use. Land value uplift is calculated by the difference between the value of the land in its new use, minus the value in its previous use; 
  • Health and distributional impacts around the provision of any additional affordable rented and social rented housing;
  • Brownfield amenity impacts relate to the removal of disamenity to the local area caused by undeveloped brownfield land and the associated impacts;
  • The brownfield land amenity benefits of developing on brownfield land are captured automatically in the TA. Alternatively for larger schemes (50 homes plus), councils may use the TA to identify the wider area (placemaking) benefits of developing on brownfield land to support their project to achieve an acceptable value for money category.

The TA provides a land value based on Valuation Office Agency (VOA) averages. Existing Land Value Assumptions can be adjusted in the Technical Annex by councils, provided proportionate evidence is submitted alongside to justify the change. 

Evidence to justify an adjustment to the VOA land values should be based on the site’s existing use value, rather than a residual value for the site following a change of use for housing. Hope value should not be taken into consideration. 

Suitable evidence may include:

  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors “Red Book” Valuation
  • evidence of sales values achieved by comparable sites with similar existing uses and a short narrative of why these sites are reasonable competitors
  • an independent assessment of the local market
  • a view of the site's value by an independent property professional or agent. 

Data sources and any relevant dates for when that data was obtained should be referenced with this information. 

Other Government Funding

If the scheme is reliant on other central government funding, this must be included within the TA and detailed in your application form, including site plans where appropriate/relevant. Where funding decisions are pending please include this information in the Application Form including the funding source, expected decision date and relationship to BLRF2.3 scheme. Further information on what funding should be included is set out in the Value for Money Guidance available under ‘How to Apply’. Your Regional Team can provide further advice and support on how to present and reference this information in both the Application Form and Technical Annex. If this evidence is not received but is relevant to the project, it may result in your application being rejected.   

Where another funding source is supporting works across a wider regeneration area, redline maps of both the proposed BLRF2 project and the wider funded area, together with a detailed breakdown of how other funding that will directly benefit the BLRF2 project site, should be supplied. For clarity, the Affordable Housing Programme grant is considered to support the direct construction of homes and does not need to be included in the Technical Annex, although it should be included as part of any viability assessment. 

Further detail on capturing other funding sources is also provided in the VfM Guidance. The FAQ on sunk costs may also be helpful. 

Additionality

Further guidance on additionality is included in the VfM Guidance and the flow charts within the TA. The application should include evidence to support applicants’ responses to the additionality assessment within the Technical Annex where relevant, such as: 

  • demonstration of clear site-specific market failures, including, where relevant, evidence that the works would not have been undertaken by the private sector
  • demonstration that the viability/funding gap could not be solved by reasonable changes to the specification of the project that would be acceptable to the council
  • details of existing landowners that might complicate land assembly
  • details of how delivery will be accelerated by this funding.

Economic appraisal: Non-Monetised Impacts (NMIs)

Councils may choose to use NMIs that can be attributed to the project where a BCR score is still close to or below 1. NMIs are economic impacts that have not been monetised in Part 1 of the economic appraisal (BCR) because it was not possible or considered proportionate to do so.

NMIs should be described as clearly as possible when completing the TA, as the assessment will focus on the scale of the impact and evidence applicable to your application. Please refer to the VfM Guidance for examples of NMIs and further information on what is expected from applicants.

2.2 Market failure

BLRF2 provides grant funding where viability issues have prevented the release of council-owned brownfield land. Funding is available to “unlock” a site where market failures are preventing housing from being delivered. Evidence of market failure would include a viability gap: that is to say where the costs associated with unlocking a site are more expensive than the value it generates. The fund cannot be used to support viable projects. 

BLRF2 applications should provide evidence of site-specific market failures, including, where relevant, evidence that the site in its present condition would not be delivered by the private sector without public sector funding support. Previous unsuccessful marketing exercises or soft market testing results can be used to support the case. The application should make clear how the funding will address the identified market failures and how - with the funding - these can be mitigated.

Proportionate evidence should be submitted to justify why the project requires government financial support. For larger projects over 100 homes and/or requesting in the region of £750,000 or above, a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) compliant development appraisal should be submitted as part of the application to show the project is currently unviable. Smaller projects could provide alternative evidence of market failure. We recognise that the collation of such evidence can be both time consuming and add additional costs to a project; we expect that the level of evidence should be proportionate to the size and nature of the project. A summary table of the costs and anticipated income from a scheme can quickly help to illustrate the presence of any viability gap, particularly where underlying viability information is highly detailed, complex or is based on long time horizons for income return. 

Evidence may include:

  • current estimated site value and a short narrative on how this was calculated 
  • estimated remediation/abnormal/other costs and a short narrative of how this was calculated. This could include direct quotes for work if available, comparable costs for similar works or estimations using standard data sources
  • estimated site value following BLRF2 funded works and a short narrative on how that figure was calculated. The estimated value should be based on a “clean site” with no further costs. The narrative should also state what the planning status of the site will be when sold
  • for projects over 100 homes and/or requesting in the region of £750,000 and over, we would expect a RICS compliant appraisal. If that cannot be provided, we would need other evidence to understand why that site was not viable. We would also need you to clearly set out the source of data used in any appraisal and how/by whom any professional judgments were taken
  • where sites are to be developed for rent, especially where councils are retaining the ownership of such sites, your application will need to set out the anticipated time period for return of investment/borrowing costs.

Where any viability/funding gap could be met by reasonable changes to the specification of the scheme (e.g. housing mix, environmental standards adopted), the appraisal should set out why such changes have been disregarded. Such reasoning could include: compliance with a range of council policies such as policy commitments to increase affordable housing delivery or type above Local Plan policy on council-owned land; design excellence; or increased sustainability performance of new housing stock. 

The development appraisal should confirm how the total viability gap will be met. If this is to be fully funded by BLRF2 grant funding this should be clearly outlined. If it is to be partially funded by BLRF2, details are required to confirm where the remaining gap funding will come from, whether it has already been secured, and outline details of associated conditions/timescales. Risks associated with unlocking the site, market failures, viability and development appraisal assumptions should be clearly identified and appropriate mitigation measures included.

2.3 Deliverability and Mitigation of Risk

Applicants must demonstrate that the land will be released by 31 March 2028. Contracts for works should be signed by 31 March 2025 and evidence of this should be returned to OPE by 14 April 2025. 

Proportionate evidence should be provided to support delivery assumptions, with a greater degree of assurance expected for larger and more complex schemes. 

The following delivery aspects should be fully addressed within each application. 

Evidencing land ownership

A copy of the title documents confirming the land is owned by the council should be submitted, together with information on any title issues that require resolution ahead of the site being marketed and a redline plan confirming the site that will benefit from funding. 

Where a copy of title is not available in order to proceed with the application, a senior council official, such as the S151 officer, is required to confirm the site is in the council’s ownership.

Should a title need to be registered in order for land to be transferred, even to a wholly council-owned development vehicle, this should be factored into the overall project plan and undertaken early in the project process. We strongly suggest that councils factor in the time required for HM Land Registry to register titles into their overall project plan.  

Where applicable, an initial outline of how the council is proposing to market the site and select their delivery partner should be submitted. This should include an indication of the associated timescales for the disposal. Risks associated with development or disposal of the site in a timely and effective manner should be identified and appropriate mitigation measures included. 

Land release

The project must undertake capital works on council-owned brownfield land. The funding must enable the release of land by 31 March 2028, preferably earlier, and address the original market failures you have identified.

For BLRF2, land can be defined as “released” when:

a) an unconditional contract, development agreement or building licence with a private sector partner is signed, or a freehold or leasehold transfer takes place

b) land has transferred to a development vehicle owned, or partly owned, by the local authority; or

c) the point at which development begins on site if (a) and (b) have not happened

d) in the case of self and custom-build, if (a), (b) or (c) do not apply, land is released when contracts are exchanged on the first plot.

Project Plan

Applications must provide evidence that the award of BLRF2 funding will enable the release of land for housing development by 31 March 2028.

The application should also include a project plan (Gantt chart or similar) outlining the procurement process and delivery of the works, as well as how this relates to the marketing and disposal of the site in order to release it for development. 

The example Grant Funding Agreement, which can be found on the How to Apply webpage, details required timelines for spending the grant.

Planning permission

BLRF2 applications must include a short planning statement outlining the planning policy position and planning history for the site. The statement should identify the key planning considerations to be addressed in delivering the BLRF2 funded project.

If the site already has planning permission for the intended project, a copy of the decision notice and s106 agreement is required. If there are conditions still to be discharged or s106 agreements to be signed post decision, timescales for securing planning permission need to be included.

If the proposed route to market is to sell or transfer the site with full or outline planning permission, then the planning statement should specify details of how that consent will be achieved. We would expect to see the council’s project plan set out the route to achieving planning permission, including:

  • any pre-application submission work timescale
  • planning submission date
  • determination period
  • estimated decision/committee date, and
  • planning permission secured date.

The risks associated with securing a timely and deliverable planning consent should be identified and appropriate mitigation measures included. An assessment of the planning risks of the project should include relevant site specific issues such as heritage considerations, flood risk, biodiversity and protected species, and the impact on transport networks/road safety.   

We would also need to understand if and how projects are dependent on the relocation of social, community and other infrastructure, the timescales and sequencing for that relocation, and if a separate planning permission is still needed to be sought to enable that relocation. 

Procurement 

The application must specify the way the works are to be procured and the associated timescales for procurement, to include: 

  • entering into a contract for the works
  • when the land will be released for development, to accord with BLRF2 requirements to release land by 31 March 2028, and
  • construction/completion of the homes.

Applicants should include details on whether a contractor has already been procured, including whether they will use a procured contractor panel or proceed with a full works procurement process. The procurement should be conducted in line with the council's procurement policy. 

Please note: Funding is not available for works already undertaken or contracted before the GFA is signed by all parties.  

Mitigation of Risk and Dependencies

The risks associated with undertaking the timely and effective procurement and delivery of the works should be identified, and appropriate mitigation measures included. 

Factors that would impact on remediation timescales, such as tenancy clearance or changes to location of utilities and services should be identified in the project plan, as should the risks and mitigations associated with these types of issues. 

Key dependencies and the council’s approach to managing them should also be clearly identified within the application. Dependencies may include:

  • extinguishing leases for commercial tenants or decanting residential tenants
  • projects where viability is dependent upon income from the disposal of another site;
  • where the project represents a later phase of wider regeneration;
  • relocating social, community and other infrastructure.

Project prioritisation criteria

If the project passes both the eligibility and gateway criteria, it will be prioritised for funding using the criteria set out below. 

  • Place-based metrics (50 per cent).
  • Strategic case (35 per cent).
  • Innovation (10 per cent).
  • Public Sector Equality Duty (5 per cent).

In the event that the fund is oversubscribed, once bids have been assessed and moderated, ministers will have the opportunity to consider recommendations that take into account the overall contribution towards BLRF2.

Place-based metrics

Place-based metrics carry 50 per cent of the overall weighting.

Both deprivation and productivity data will be used to provide a place based metric score, which will be automatically applied to the application. Applicants are not required to provide evidence to support this element of the application. 

Further details of how this will be calculated are provided below:

  • Deprivation: the proportion of lower super output areas in a council area that are in the 10 per cent most deprived lower super output areas nationally, as per the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 – a widely used way of measuring deprivation. This enables the identification of areas with particularly concentrated deprivation that will benefit from holistic regeneration to address complex problems and provide a new economic purpose.
  • Productivity: Gross Value Added (GVA) per hour worked (2019), a widely used labour productivity measure. This enables the identification of areas that are performing less well economically than other parts of the country, and which will benefit from regeneration that creates spaces fit for the modern economy.

These two metrics have been weighted 75:25 per cent in favour of the Index of Multiple Deprivation and ranked. Subsequently, this ranked list was used to calculate the corresponding score between 0 – 50. The place based list can be found in the How to Apply section of our web pages.

Strategic case

The strategic case carries 35 per cent of the overall weighting, which will be assessed against the opportunity, and links to local and national government priorities.

Applications must articulate how - and the degree to which - the project will have a positive impact on local strategic objectives. This can include, but is not limited to: 

  • Local Plan: Housing delivery and affordable housing, regeneration, economic development, design, density, area specific policies or site allocations
  • Housing: housing mix & tenure including proposals that contribute to the provision of  Affordable Housing, Social Housing, Key Worker, Older Persons Housing, Ex-Service Personnel, Homelessness, Ex-Offenders
  • Regeneration/Placemaking: Strategies and policies (outside of the Local Plan Policy) relating to Levelling Up, Economic Development, Regeneration, Local Employment, Local Suppliers, Skills or Apprenticeship (inc Local Enterprise Partnership or similar partnership policies)
  • Net Zero/Environment/Transport: Strategies relating to Biodiversity, Protected Species, Net Zero, Local Transport Plan
  • Health, Community and Social Care: Strategies relating to Adult Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, Community Safety.

Applications should demonstrate a clear connection between the impact of the project, evidenced against specific and relevant policies/objectives, such as housing regeneration and economic development. Project outcomes and impacts should clearly contribute to monitored policy goals/outcomes, such as those that support affordable housing.

The Strategic Case will be assessed for both impact and evidence. Projects that demonstrate their contribution towards the delivery of multiple objectives across a broad range of up to date policy areas will score highest for impact. 

Applicants are also asked to demonstrate through the strategic case that their proposals strongly align with up to date Local Plan objectives as well as relevant strategies and objectives, such as the council’s Housing Strategy. The highest possible score for the strategic case will generally be awarded to authorities that have:

  • an up-to-date Local Plan in place (adopted within the last five years), or
  • completed their Local Plan Review within the five-year window and determined that their plan remains in date, or
  • submitted their Local Plan for independent examination.

To score strongly for evidence, applications will clearly reference specific objectives/policies within up to date strategies, demonstrating a clear direct link between the objectives/policies, and the project itself. 

Furthermore, supporting documentation should have gone through a process of external consultation and/or scrutiny before becoming official council policy by an appropriate democratic process. Supporting documentation should be as up to date as possible and reflect wider relevant national policy and guidance. For example, where a project meets the requirements of a number of housing and regeneration policies/objectives in an adopted Local Plan, the Local Transport Plan and the council’s Housing Strategy, then we would anticipate that such evidence would support a strong strategic fit. 

Innovation

Innovation carries 10 per cent of the overall weighting.

Projects will be assessed based on innovative models of delivery. Areas of innovation could include: 

  • projects demonstrating a positive local economic impact, maximising the involvement of Small and Medium Sized businesses (SMEs)
  • proposals to take forward development at at a faster pace than conventional construction and development methodologies
  • use of modern methods of construction/innovative design
  • Joint ventures
  • joining-up across local authority boundaries
  • a commitment to net-zero carbon opportunities
  • self and custom build.

Meeting baseline regulatory requirements in these areas would by itself not be considered sufficient evidence of innovation, for example projects meeting but not exceeding the requirements of the building regulations with respect to energy efficiency.   

Applications should also demonstrate strong local commitment to delivering the innovative approach(es). For instance, the approach has been formally agreed via a policy, committee or Cabinet, or senior officer delegation.

Public sector equality duty (PSED)

The public sector equality duty carries 5 per cent of the overall weighting.

Projects that guarantee ownership or tenure for people who share one or more protected characteristics (as defined in the Equality Act 2010) in the local area, who struggle to attain appropriate housing, will be given a 5 per cent increase to their overall score. Examples could include guaranteed ownership or tenure:

  • In areas where those sharing one or more protected characteristics have disproportionately low home ownership; and/or 
  • In areas where those sharing one or more protected characteristics suffer disproportionately from overcrowding.

Meeting baseline regulatory requirements in these areas would by itself not be considered sufficient evidence to receive an increased PSED score, for example, projects meeting but not exceeding the requirements of the building regulations with respect to accessibility. 

PSED will be assessed for impact and evidence. The highest score for impact will be awarded to projects that clearly affirm/guarantee ownership or occupation for people who share one or more protected characteristics, and that this responds to an identified local need within a formally approved strategy. 

Projects should also demonstrate strong local commitment to delivering the identified PSED benefits. For instance, the approach has been formally agreed via a policy, committee or Cabinet, or senior officer delegation, and is beyond every public body's overall duty in respect of equality. 

Monitoring

Reporting against project progress is a mandatory condition of funding, as set out in the Grant Funding Agreement. Project leads will be required to report on six milestones at each reporting period, which is currently three times per year, as well as providing a narrative on the project’s key risks/issues to delivery. The six milestones are detailed in the FAQs. We advise applicants to review the terms and conditions of funding as set out in the draft Grant Funding Agreement.