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Boost for housing as government puts hundreds of acres of land up for sale

Six hundred acres of surplus public sector land for sale to deliver new homes and boost local growth.

The government has today (26 January 2016) published details of 600 acres of surplus public sector land as part of its drive to deliver tens of thousands of new homes and boost local growth.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said it was further proof that the government was getting the country building again and urged developers to seize the opportunity and build the homes hard-working people want and deserve.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has more than 80 public land sites for sale and will bring a further 40 more sites to market over the next 18 months, providing a boost to local economies and a significant return to the taxpayer.

It is estimated these sites will support more than 5,000 homes as well as land for industry and business. Over 20% of the sites already have outline or detailed planning permission.

The government has embarked on the largest house building programme since the 1970s as it looks to deliver a million new homes. It will support the delivery of 160,000 homes through the sale of surplus public sector land.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:

“Using surplus public sector land for housing has helped us get the country building again with the number of new homes up by 25%.

“Selling off these sites will allow us to go even further, delivering on our ambition to support a further 160,000 homes, while providing a significant boost to local economies and the taxpayer.

“I now want to see developers getting shovels in the ground as quick as possible and build the homes hard-working people want and deserve.”

The HCA is the government’s disposal agency for surplus public land, and using its local market knowledge, commercial expertise and experience of managing large portfolios of land, exceeded its contribution to the government’s last land programme by more than 3,000 homes.

In total, Whitehall departments released enough public sector land to support more than 109,000 homes during the last parliament.

Chief Executive of the HCA, Andy Rose, said:

“The sale of surplus public land helps to meet government priorities to build more homes and business premises, while delivering a financial return to the taxpayer.

“We will use our commercial expertise and local market knowledge to make land attractive to house builders, to help get homes built more quickly and meet local priorities.

“As the government’s disposal agency for surplus public land, we are well placed to support other departments and agencies in meeting their contribution to the government’s land programme.”

The Land Development and Disposal Plan published today also sets out some key principles of land disposal, which followed a review of the HCA’s processes and were developed in cooperation with the Home Builders Federation and its members.

These include clearer objectives for each site prior to sale, early and meaningful market engagement with a transparent pipeline of sites and clearer commercial terms.

David O’Leary, policy director at the Home Builders Federation said:

“Public sector land accounts for a significant proportion of potential residential land and can play an important part in helping the country to boost housing numbers.

“The role of the HCA is critical in helping the government to meet its ambitious targets for releasing public land for housing and the creation of a more commercial environment with greater clarity will encourage more companies to bid for sites.

“In developing this new approach, the HCA engaged constructively with the industry. To be successful, public land disposal processes must be as clear and efficient as possible, taking account of the needs of all house builders, from SMEs seeking small sites through to large national companies with the capacity to develop very large sites.

“The new processes should not only help to accelerate the delivery of much-needed housing but also allow more smaller house builders to compete for sites and build more new homes.”

The government has doubled the investment in housing to more than £20 billion over the next 5 years.

Earlier this month it announced a £1.2 billion Starter Home Fund to prepare brownfield sites for new homes. This will fast-track the creation of at least 30,000 new Starter Homes and up to 30,000 market homes on 500 new sites by 2020 – helping deliver the commitment to create 200,000 starter homes over the next 5 years.

The Land Development and Disposal Plan – including a list of the 83 sites currently on the market – is available to download from GOV.UK.

More details on the sites currently on the market is available from the Government Property Finder website.

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