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Government on target to smash public land ambition

Land identified to build more than 100,000 homes Whitehall departments are set to smash the Prime Minister’s ambition to release previously…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Land identified to build more than 100,000 homes

Whitehall departments are set to smash the Prime Minister’s ambition to release previously-used public land for building the homes this country needs, Housing Minister Grant Shapps said today.

New figures show that Ministers have identified enough surplus public land, such as empty offices, unused storage or empty public service buildings, to build up to 102,000 homes.

This means the Government is already well on track to exceed the Prime Minister’s ambition to release enough surplus land for 100,000 homes by 2015 - with more to follow.

Organisations across the public services, including the NHS, Ministry of Defence and Department for Transport, will now play a critical role in helping to build the new homes that communities want and that the country needs.

Examples of brownfield and previously used sites set to be released and sold for new homes include:

  • Princess Marina Hospital, Northampton. This NHS site has been sold and has outline planning consent for 550 homes including 12 flats for junior doctors.
  • Foxhill, Bath. The former Ministry of Defence base could provide over 600 homes.
  • Hertford East coal yard. Land in the Department for Transport estate with potential capacity for 50 homes.
  • RAF Brampton, Huntingdonshire. The former Ministry of Defence base could provide up to 400 homes.
  • Leicester Frith Farm, Lady Hay Road, Leicester. Former farm buildings sold by the Department of Health with the potential for conversion and around 10 homes.
  • Long Benton, Newcastle. Land formerly used for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ veterinary investigation centre, will deliver around 50 housing units with a minimum 12 affordable homes.
  • Calvert Lane, Hull Springbank. Part of the Department for Transport estate; could support up to 105 homes.
  • Erskine Barracks, Wilton. The former Ministry of Defence barracks could provide up to 450 homes. 

More to do

With the public sector owning an estimated 40 per cent of larger sites suitable for development, Grant Shapps is determined that Whitehall can go further.

He has pledged that Government departments will continue to identify and make available as many brownfield and previously used sites as possible for more much-needed homes, and work closely with the Homes and Communities Agency to make land ready for sale as soon as possible while still ensuring best value for money for the taxpayer.
To help developers make the most of the sites on offer, Mr Shapps will also look to extend the use of the innovative “Build Now, Pay Later” deal to as many previously-used sites as possible - allowing them to start work on thousands of new homes without the initial expense of buying the land.

Ministers are also committed to making information about surplus public land freely available, so that local people can see what opportunities exist to advance projects and meet local needs - be it for free schools, businesses or new homes.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

Government is one of the country’s biggest landowners - it’s only right that we make the best use of our assets, and I can’t think of a better use than building the homes this country needs.  
“We’re already on track to smash the Prime Minister’s ambition to release previously-used public land for housing: enough land has already been identified to support more than 102,000 homes. But we’re not stopping there - I’m determined to continue looking for more sites suitable for housebuilding.

“And as this work continues we’ll support developers getting on site quickly, through the innovative Build Now, Pay Later deal. This gives builders access to land they only pay for after the homes are built, laying the foundations for new homes and neighbourhoods right across the country.”

The Government has put a range of measures in place to boost housebuilding.

  • The Prime Minister recently announced an extra £150 million to Get Britain Building, bringing the total fund to £570 million, to get work started on stalled sites and build up to 16,000 new homes.
  • The £4.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme is set to exceed expectations and deliver up to 170,000 homes; and
  • The NewBuy Guarantee scheme will help get the market moving, by giving thousands the opportunity to buy their dream home with a fraction of the deposit they currently require.

Notes to editor

Organisations across the public services have identified unused land with a total housing capacity of 102,670. They are:


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Published 7 May 2012