Local authorities are to be helped to release unused or surplus land for housebuilding via a new £45 million Land Release Fund.
The Government has announced the launch of the £45 million Land Release Fund to help local authorities “release some of their unused or surplus land for housing”.
The Land Release Fund is the result of a partnership between the Cabinet Office and the One Public Estate (OPE) programme. Managed by the Local Government Association (LGA), it takes the total amount of available funding up to £54 million.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) expects this funding to release enough public land to build 160,000 new homes by 2020.
Housing and Planning Minister, Alok Sharma, said: “To build the homes this country needs, we need to increase the supply of land available to build more homes, more quickly. As a major landowner, local authorities have a crucial role to play in this task. Through this innovative cross-government partnership, we will be able to work with councils much more effectively, helping them to meet local housing needs and transform local areas.”
Reacting to the news Jane Gallifent, development & sales director at Aster Group, said: “The launch of the Land Release fund is a welcome move from the government. We need to build 250,000 new houses a year to meet demand and making use of available land of all sizes is essential to achieving that. The 160,000 homes that the scheme intends to help deliver is a firm step in the right direction.
“It’s this kind of approach to policy that will help solve the housing crisis. Flagship schemes with hundreds or thousands of homes are crucial, but developments on smaller parcels of land are no less important in meeting the demand for new housing. It’s encouraging to see the government apply some original thinking in pushing councils to bring such land back into meaningful use.”
Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the House Builders Association said: “While the announcement of extra money to unlock land for new homes is certainly welcome, we must ensure that it ends up enabling SME house builders to do their job. SMEs unlock supply more quickly, drive a competitive local market and win work on reputation. They also employ and train the majority of construction employees, retaining two out of three of them.”
The House Builders Association (HBA) – the house building division of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) – has frequently advocated that the most productive solution to the housing crisis lies in enabling small and medium-sized (SME) developers to build more homes in their local communities.