£30m funding injection to unlock land for new homes

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New homes, public sector land

The government has announced a £30m funding boost to help kick-start the building of thousands of new homes by transforming public sector land

In a speech at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference, cabinet office minister, Lord Agnew has announced that the government is boosting its Land Release Fund (LRF) and the One Public Estate (OPE) programme.

An additional £30m will be funded to help release surplus public sector land for housing and support local economies to bounce back from the pandemic.

The One Public Estate

The programme will provide £10m, supporting the earliest stages of development. New and existing partnerships will be able to bid for practical support to deliver ambitious property programmes in collaboration with central government and other public sector partners, which deliver homes, jobs, efficiencies and improved public services.

The Burnholme development in York is one example, supporting the delivery of a modern health and wellbeing hub with new homes and spaces for education, health and worship.

The Land Release Fund

The LRF will offer councils the opportunity to bid for £20m for remediation works and infrastructure to bring their surplus sites forward for housing. The LRF targets small sites with a focus on supporting SME builders.

The LRF currently supports 73 council projects which are on track to release land for more than 6,000 homes by next March.

Including:

Broadland District Council in Norfolk

Awarded funding to deliver improvements such as site highways works and the implementation of a surface water drainage strategy and pumping station. 22 homes at Rosebery Road, Great Plumstead have now been completed by Broadland District Council’s housing company.

The Griffin regeneration area in Blackburn:

Awarded funding to carry out new highways access and land remediation work to accelerate the release of brownfield land for 140 new homes. This has helped to make the site viable, supporting the regeneration of the local area and bringing forward a much-needed scheme of new family homes for rent and sale.

‘Government policy should be more ambitious’

Councillor James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Councils continue to lead their communities through the coronavirus crisis, working closely with other local partners including health and emergency services.

“One Public Estate will play a crucial role as we move into the next phase and help with the local and national economic recovery.

“This additional funding will support councils to make better use of their assets, including their spare land and property, to help join up local services.

“This in turn will create new savings and efficiencies, as we look towards the future of local public services after the pandemic.”

Dave Sheridan, executive chairman at ilke Homes, said: “I welcome the government’s efforts to release surplus land for housing as part of a boost to its Land Release Fund and One Public Estate programme.

“However, to really kickstart a housing boom, government policy should be more ambitious. Ministers must be proactive in bringing land forward and designating parcels exclusively for factory-built homes.

“This will help accelerate the pace of housing procurement and delivery in the UK – cutting construction programmes by almost half – which will be pivotal to any post-Covid-19 recovery plans.

“With house prices defying the doom and gloom expectations that characterised the market prior to the summer months, affordability levels continue to fall.

“Housing associations have a key role to play in using their own funds and their own land to boost the supply of affordable housing and should be encouraged to collaborate closely with Homes England and other stakeholders.”

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