Housing Infrastructure Fund to revitalize an English downtown scorned as “a cemetery”

Dunstable is a market town in Bedfordshire, England. In 2009, Mary Portas, a celebrity champion of High Street (what Americans call “Main Street”) revitalization described its city center as “a cemetery.”

But that cemetery is about to return from the dead. Dunstable has just been awarded £6 million to revitalize its downtown and create 400 new homes. As readers of the new Resilience Strategy Guide know, residential-based downtown revitalization is one of the surest strategies for long-term regeneration.

The money comes from the UK government’s £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund. Dunstable’s funding derives from a £866 million public investment in creating 2000,000 new homes and renovating infrastructure nationwide, which was announced in February of 2018. It will fund key projects including roads, cycle paths, flood resilience and land remediation work, all essential preparation for building the homes.

Dunstable’s MP (Member of Parliament), Andrew Selous, said: “It is great to see this commitment to Dunstable’s future. I am sure this vote of confidence will drive further positive growth in our town and the local area.”

UK Housing Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Philip Hammond said that 133 council-led projects across the country will receive this funding.

With the government committed to building 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, this first wave of funding from the Housing Infrastructure Fund is part of a comprehensive program to fix the broken housing market.

Without this financial support these projects would struggle to go ahead or take years for work to begin, delaying the homes these communities need. Together with the government’s Industrial Strategy, it will provide high-quality infrastructure to support economic growth.

Photo of Dunstable city center by Nigel Cross via Wikipedia.

See more information on the UK’s Housing Infrastructure Fund.

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