The UK government has recently announced that a funding boost of £30 million will be used to unlock surplus public sector land. This land will be used to build new homes whilst also supporting local economies during this turbulent period of the coronavirus pandemic.
This announcement was made at the annual conference for the Chartered Institute of Housing, Lord Agnew – cabinet office minister – stating that the government will be boosting its One Public Estate (OPE) programme as well as its Land Release Fund (LRF).
Those in the industry, have provided interesting responses to this new announcement, including the likes of ilke Homes executive chairman David Sheridan, who has stated: “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.”
“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.”
One Public Estate – £10 million will be provided through this programme, helping to support early stages of development.
Through this programme, partnerships both new and already existing will have the opportunity to bid for support in delivering ambitious programmes – these programmes concerned around the deliverance of homes, jobs and improved public services.
The Land Release Fund – £20 million will be provided through the LRF, of which councils will have the opportunity to bid for to develop their surplus sites for housing.
The LRF targets specifically small sites, its support focused around SME builders.
Chairman of the Local Government Association, Councillor James Jamieson, has stated the following on the matter:
“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.”