Chancellor pledges to speed up new homes on public sector sites

The chancellor George Osborne has announced nearly £300 million of funding over the next two years to speed up the development of new homes on surplus public sector sites.

Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne

His Autumn Statement, published last week, contained £100 million for public land acquisitions between 2013 and 2015. Planning understands that the funding will be used to acquire surplus land from Whitehall departments and public agencies to bring forward for development.

The chancellor also announced £190 million of funding over the next two years to "enable the quicker disposal of surplus public sector land for new homes". The document said that this funding would be used to "de-risk" public sector land and to "enable the quicker disposal of surplus sites for new homes".

The funding will be used to get sites ready for development, including on work to clear and remediate them, Planning understands.

David Orr, chief executive of umbrella body the National Housing Federation, said the extra funding to help bring forward development on public sector land was "welcome", but added: "It is at a much smaller scale than we expected".

Orr said: "It is imperative that the government moves forward quickly with this and ensures the rapid release of land for new homes."

In a statement issued alongside the Autumn Statement, the DCLG reiterated its intention for the national housing and regeneration quango the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to become a single "shop window" for public land disposal.

In a written ministerial statement in September, communities secretary Eric Pickles had pledged to accelerate the release of surplus public sector land by "strengthening the role of the HCA ...

through a targeted programme of transfers from other government departments and agencies".

The statement also included £60 million to "support infrastructure in a limited number of enterprise zones" and confirmed £225 million to unblock major housing projects.

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