Government frees up land to build 100,000 homes

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has announced government plans to release enough land from Whitehall’s grip to build as many as 100,000 new homes and support as many as 25,000 jobs by 2015.

The amount of previously-developed land owned by the public sector is more than twice the size of Leicester.

Shapps confirmed that by this Autumn, every government department with significant landbanks will publish plans to release thousands of acres of previously-developed land to house builders, so they can get on and build the homes.

The Public Expenditure Committee, a Cabinet Committee chaired by Francis Maude, will go through each department’s plans to make sure every possible site is made available for housebuilding.

Alongside this, property specialists from across government will work with each department and challenge them to release as much land as they can for new homes.

Ministers are also encouraging councils to follow the lead set by central government and make their unused land available for development.

Later this year, a new map will be launched to show land and buildings owned by public bodies in each area. A new Community Right to Reclaim Land has been introduced enabling residents to apply to organisations including central government departments and councils to bring their sites back into use – opening up the books so local people can see for themselves the assets held by central and local government alike.

Grant Shapps also outlined his own department’s contribution.

This includes a Build Now, Pay Later deal, which offers a boost to house builders who only pay for the land once work has started on the new homes – helping those struggling with cashflow problems, and enabling them to start building straight away.

Shapps says: “As one of the country’s biggest landlords, the government has a critical role to play in making sites available for developers so we can get the homes this country needs built.

“So today, I can confirm an ambitious challenge across government to release enough land from Whitehall’s grip for 100,000 new homes across the country. Over the coming months, property specialists will work to make sure no stone is left unturned and no site is left unused, and every department’s plans will come under the close scrutiny of a Cabinet committee.

“The work starts today, with sites already being brought forward by three different departments, including my own, some of which will be available on new terms so developers can start building straight away.

“So we are already off to a flying start – it is now for developers to come forward, make the most of this unique opportunity, and help contribute to our country-wide efforts to help get the homes this country needs built.”