Property Week, May 21 2010 Barrie blogs on development 'moratorium

18:04 | 21.05.10 By Giles Barrie I am hearing increasingly fearful whispers that Chancellor George Osborne might announce an immediate freeze on all publicly-funded development on Monday. There is growing speculation that Osborne will tell publicly-funded bodies - with the Homes & Communities Agency at greatest risk - to cease negotiations on all contracts not already signed. Executives at the UK's biggest local authorities and development agencies are understood to have this week received instructions from Whitehall introducing new restrictions on spending. These are understood to have lowered the threshold above which spending decisions need government approval. Now I hear that as part of £6bn of 'in year' cuts to be announced on Monday Osborne will slam the brakes on all major new housing programmes.

Commercial development will be less affected, as the HCA has already scaled back its commitment to retail and industrial-led regeneration. There are also fears that the HCA will be axed within two years, once legislation is passed for its abolition. Whitehall sources told me yesterday that HCA powers will be handed to elected mayors in England's 12 biggest cities, and to county and city councils elsewhere. Also in the firing line this weekend is the Olympic legacy budget, with developers, bizarrely, likely to be asked to pay more towards post 2012 regeneration. It will be a sweaty weekend for the whole regeneration world
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