A £54 million package has been launched by the government in the hope of renovating local communities, and releasing land for thousands of new homes.
This comes under part of a new cross-government partnership to ensure government-owned property in England is utilized more effectively.
£45 million of the 54 has come from the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) Land Release Fund.
The DCLG has been launched in corporation with the Cabinet Office and the Local Government Association’s (LGA) One Public Estate Program.
It has been said by the government that this will guarantee councils will be releasing a percentage of their unused land for housing, which in turn will be assisting to meet the goal of unlocking enough council-owned land for at least 160,000 homes by 2020.
The funding allows councils to now bid for it, which could lead to it being used for land remediation and small-scale infrastructure.
Additionally to this £9 million is being made available by One Public Estate with the aim of supporting councils in delivering property-focused programmes.
Councils on the programme are, by 2020, are expected to have delivered the following:
- £615 million in capital receipts,
- £158 million in running costs saved,
- 44,000 new jobs,
- the release of land for 25,000 homes.
The aim of the partnership between the DCLG and One Public Estate is to provide local authorities with better access to support from the government to release more land efficiently.
The 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.”
The chairman at the LGA, Lord Porter, said:
“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.”
The head of policy at the RTPI, Richard Blyth, said:
“We welcome the use of underused public land for housing purposes and for the release of money to assist in making land fit for purpose.
However caution should be expressed for two reasons: firstly it may be in the best interests of a place for its assets to remain in public ownership and generate long term revenue, and secondly if the highest capital receipt is pursued to the exclusion of all other objectives, the risk is that the homes may not be affordable homes.”
The chief executive at the British Property Federation, Melanie Leech, has said that the programme is a:
“significant boost for local councils to release unused or surplus land for much-needed housing.”
Having said this, she continued to say the DCLG
“must ensure the funding is released effectively and at speed if this initiative is to truly support the government reach its housing targets by 2020”.
With this this government must push the promised changes in the housing white paper, for example the amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework and the increase of planning fees.
“To give local councils the impetus to strategically plan for and deliver a range of housing tenures”.
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