The government has welcomed a concept proposal to sell off 18 public sector-owned sites to create 23,000 new homes
The recommendations were made by an Expert Advisory Panel chaired by Berkeley Group chairman Tony Pidgley.
The report, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government made five key recommendations:
- Require all public sector landowners with surplus sites to create a ‘plan for sale’ while the Government provides incentives and sanctions to ensure these are disposed of in a clear and speedy way
- Offer surplus land to developers on a simple two year peppercorn option
- Classify large housing developments as major infrastructure, producing a fast track planning process which still guarantees community engagement and design quality
- Provide infrastructure funding for the schemes over 500 homes
- Ensure a constructive, coordinated approach from statutory consultees
Pidgley said: ‘This is a golden opportunity to deliver growth and great places. It’s surplus public land. It doesn’t need new legislation. In recent weeks, the Deputy Prime Minister has urged us to think big. The Planning Minister has urged us to make new housing beautiful. On all these sites we can do both.’
He added: ‘What it needs is a simple system to dispose of the available land alongside investment in infrastructure, and then the private sector can shoulder the risk, paying back the funding and land value to government once the homes are built.’
‘If statutory consultees step up to the mark and give their advice in a timely and constructive manner; and everyone shows a common commitment, we can create some fantastic new places fast, with huge dividends in terms of homes, jobs, and GDP.’
The government has announced £290 million worth of funding to bring forward the disposal of central government land.
This includes £100 million for Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to purchase surplus public land from central government departments, and £190 million to invest in surplus public land to reduce risk and make sites more attractive to potential purchasers.
HCA chief executive Pat Ritchie said: ‘We welcome any moves to increase the amount of land available for development and speed up the rate at which it is brought forward to increase housing supply and boost economic growth.
‘We are pleased that government has recognised the expertise of the HCA in managing large portfolios of land and complex development sites, using our understanding of the economics of development and local knowledge.’
She added: ‘This is core business for the HCA, and we will continue to work with partners and use our local relationships, to deliver the homes our communities need as speedily and cost-effectively as possible.’
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