Accelerating the release of Public Land – New document released

A new summary report has been released, as of 5th October 2011, to provide an update following the announcement by the Housing Minister in June, of Government plans to accelerate the release of public sector land in an attempt to deliver up to 100,000 homes within the Comprehensive Spending Review period, and support economic growth.

The document gives an overview of the work that has already been done, how the government is supporting and facilitating the accelerated release of public land, and proposals for taking the next phase of work forward.

In particular, it provides further detailing on the ‘Build now, pay later’ scheme, which attempts to alleviate the heavy capital costs of buying land previously necessary for any developer wishing to start a new project. In order to remove this substantial outgoing, developers are required only to pay the land costs once the homes are built.

Details of the first sites to be made available under this scheme were published in March of this year and include Hemel Hempstead, Park Prewett (Basingstoke), Blackwall Reach (Tower Hamlets), Ransome Road (Northampton), Cotgrave (Nottinghamshire) and Coppings (Telford).

These six sites are predicted to create up to 3,000 new homes and 18,000 jobs in construction and related industries, and they constitute just the beginning of a policy which could see many more homes built in the future.

The Government has stated that up to 40 per cent of land suitable for housing development – as much as 7,500 hectares – is “sitting idle” in public sector land banks. It is estimated that making this land available owned by central Government alone could help developers build more than 60,000 new homes over 10 years.

To ensure the six original sites are the first of many to be made available, Government departments across Whitehall are publishing their own plans to release land – and will be held to account for the numbers of homes and jobs created as a result.

Grant Shapps said of the new public land sites, in March this year:

“Draconian top-down targets brought housebuilding to its knees, reaching the lowest level for any peacetime year since 1924. Radical reform is needed to give a boost to developers and kickstart building so we can get the homes this country needs.

“Up to 40 per cent of the land ready for development in this country is simply sitting idle in the hands of the public sector. So today I’m giving the green light to the Homes and Communities Agency to lead the way by making six new sites available for development.

“These will be the first of many sites as all Government departments will now be asked to make land available for housebuilding and, crucially, will be held accountable for the homes built and jobs supported through this. Many of these sites will be available under Build Now, Pay Later, giving builders access to land they only pay for once the homes are built and giving a boost to the level of housebuilding in this country.”

The summary report can be found online at this link on the Communities and Local Government Website.

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