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The government has launched a new initiative designed to help local councils release land for housing development.

The ‘Land Release Fund’ sees some £45M of funding from DCLG, supported by £9M from One Public Estate, to help local authorities build thousands of new homes. In line with the government’s White Paper on Housing, the fund will ensure local councils release some of their unused or surplus land for housing, helping to meet the ambition to unlock enough council-owned land for at least 160,000 homes by 2020. Councils can now bid for funding for land remediation and small-scale infrastructure, which will help bring sites forward for housing that would not have otherwise been developed.
By 2020, councils on the programme are expected to deliver £615M in capital receipts, £158M running costs savings, create 44,000 new jobs and release land for 25,000 new homes.

This partnership between DCLG and One Public Estate will give local authorities greater access to support from across government and help them to release more land, more efficiently.

Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency, Caroline Nokes, said: “One Public Estate is enabling local authorities to make better use of their land and property and deliver tangible benefits to their communities. I am delighted that this new funding round will enable even more councils to deliver the homes, jobs and services that local people need.”

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.”

LGA Chairman, Lord Porter, said: “Through One Public Estate councils have shown that they are perfectly positioned to act as leaders of place and deliver effective cross public sector asset management. It is great to see in practice how the programme is delivering more integrated services, local economic growth, and supporting more sustainable local government. Councils are committed to building the new homes their communities need and I’m pleased to see the announcement of the Local Authority Land Release Fund as part of this next funding round. It’s great to see two government programmes aligning to offer a more coherent programme to our local communities.”

Through this partnership between DCLG, Cabinet Office and the LGA, and the variety of different funds available, local authorities will be able to combat multiple barriers to land development and deliver many more homes at a faster pace.

Response to the programme has been good, with building authorities and associations pleased with the announcement.

However, Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the HBA, said emphasis needs to be placed on working with SMEs rather than the larger developers, he 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. We cannot waste those intrinsic values for another decade.”

Source – UK Construction Online

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