Government plans to build 13000 homes on public land

Ground-breaking new policy will see the government fast-track the building of thousands of affordable homes on publicly owned land.

In a radical new policy shift, not used on this scale since Thatcher and Heseltine started the Docklands, the government will directly commission the building of homes on publicly owned land.

This will lead to quality homes built at a faster rate with smaller building firms – currently unable to take on big projects – able to get building on government sites where planning permission is already in place.

The first wave of up to 13,000 will start on 4 sites outside of London in 2016 – up to 40% of which will be affordable ‘starter’ homes. This approach will also be used in at the Old Oak Common site in north-west London.

The government has also announced a £1.2bn starter home fund to prepare brownfield sites for new homes. This will fast-track the creation of at least 30,000 new starter homes and up to 30,000 market homes on 500 new sites by 2020 – helping deliver the commitment to create 200,000 starter homes over the next 5 years.

The government believes the new investment will help kick-start regeneration and secure planning permission in urban areas – renovating disused or under-occupied urban sites so builders can get to work without any delays.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "This government was elected to deliver security and opportunity - whatever stage of life you’re at. Nothing is more important to achieving that than ensuring hard-working people can buy affordable homes.

"Today’s package signals a huge shift in government policy. Nothing like this has been done on this scale in 3 decades – government rolling its sleeves up and directly getting homes built.

"Backed up with a further £1.2 billion to get homes built on brownfield sites, it shows we will do everything we can to get Britain building and let more people have the security that comes with a home of their own."

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: "We’re pulling out all the stops to keep the country building with a clear ambition to deliver a million homes by 2020 and support hard-working people into home ownership.

"Today’s radical new approach will mean the government will directly commission small and up-and-coming companies to build thousands of new homes on sites right across the country.

"This, and the £1.2billion new starter homes fund, will help thousands of people to realise their dream of owning their own home.

"Currently the top 8 house builders provide 50% of new homes. The direct commissioning approach will support smaller builders and new entrants who are ready to build but lack the resources and access to land."

The pilot for direct commissioning on publicly owned land will start in 5 sites:

Connaught Barracks in Dover
Northstowe in Cambridgeshire
Lower Graylingwell in Chichester
Daedelus on Waterfront in Gosport
Old Oak Common in north-west London

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: "When it comes to building new homes, the availability of small sites is the single biggest barrier to SME house builders increasing their output.

"Any measures that the government can introduce that will increase the number of small sites suitable for SME house builders will help address the housing shortfall.

"It is also encouraging that the majority of these sites will already have planning permission in place as obtaining permission is all-too-often a lengthy and protracted process – avoiding this time delay should help house builders increase their supply much more quickly."

Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: "This government has already introduced a great many initiatives that we believe will slow current high rates of house-price growth. Today’s announcements will further help to bring much-needed new developments swiftly to market."

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