How Homes England sells land for housing-led developments

The sale of land is determined by the potential number of homes that a housing developer or registered provider can build on a given site.

Applies to England

How we sell land

The main way that we sell land is through our procurement process, the Delivery Partner Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS).

The route by which we sell land is determined primarily by the potential number of homes that can be built on that site. We are also guided by value for money considerations.

 Under 70 units

We sell sites with 70 units through 3 routes, presenting a range of opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and registered providers (RPs).

Smaller sites are sold on a competitive basis through:

  • our Delivery Partner DPS (using our Building Lease or Building Lease ‘lite’ which is a simpler version tailored for smaller sites)
  • the open market (conditional or unconditional freehold sale)
  • standard auction practice

 Over 70 units building lease or bespoke contract

For sites with the potential for a larger number of homes, we sell these competitively to members on the Delivery Partner DPS using our standard building lease or bespoke terms for our very large sites.

Even within these larger sites, there may be opportunities for DPS members to collaborate with others such as SMEs and RPs. Our standard building lease sets out a legal obligation for a certain proportion of homes to be delivered by SMEs and/or RPs.

Larger sites are sold through:

  • the DPS – our streamlined compliant procurement route for public sector organisations to appoint developers or contractors to deliver housing-led developments
  • tender – for very large or strategic sites. Bespoke commercial or contractual arrangements may be used.

Unlocking land for development

Our role is to ensure more people in England have access to well-designed homes in the places they want to live. To make this happen, we work with partners to identify what housing is required and get more homes built where they are needed most. We work to speed up the delivery of homes, tackle market failure where it happens and help to shape a more resilient and more diverse housing market.

We control a significant amount of public sector land. We have a responsibility to make the best use of this and support the government ambition to release surplus public sector land for housing. For the housing sector to sustainably deliver 300,000 homes a year on average, a long-term pipeline of developable land is needed.

Delivering a diverse land and property portfolio through the Land Hub

As the government’s housing accelerator, we are committed to ensuring that we do not hold land longer than necessary and be transparent with the market regarding upcoming opportunities.

We have a diverse land and property portfolio with significant differences in site characteristics such as size, development potential and strategic importance to a local area. So each development and disposal opportunity that is brought forward is unique.

As part of our commitment to ensuring a consistent approach to disposing of our land, we adopt the following principles:

  1. Ensuring that every sale has clear objectives from the outset.
  2. Consistency in the way site-specific sale strategies are prepared.
  3. Undertaking early and meaningful market engagement.
  4. Establishing the appropriate level of investment before a sale.
  5. Providing clarity around the key commercial terms of the deal.
  6. Consistency in the application of ‘overage’ provisions.
  7. Transparency around our sale pipeline.

Through our land sales, not only do we make surplus public land available for housing, but we also realise our policy objectives and aim to balance these with ensuring that we deliver value for money and whilst ensuring that sites are considered commercially attractive to all types of developers and house builders.

The nature of our work means that we work collaboratively with local partners (Local Authorities, Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and other public sector landowners) to ensure that our sales, where appropriate and align with their local plans and ambitions.

Find Homes England sites

If you’re interested in buying land from Homes England, our interactive map, Land Hub, provides visibility of our pipeline of sites we intend to sell over a 6-month period.

How sites are added to the Land Hub

Our existing assets are diverse, and we are adding more sites to our portfolio through the Land Assembly Fund.

We are a significant public sector landowner with a varied and complex land and property portfolio of over 9,100 hectares spread across a wide geography over England (excluding London). This comprises:

  • former Commission for the New Towns land
  • coalfield sites
  • assets inherited from the former Regional Development Agencies (RDAs)
  • sites acquired from other public landowners, including from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Care

The majority of our portfolio is suitable for housing, though we also have historic landholdings that are more suitable for non-residential purposes.

Some of the sites in our portfolio require very little intervention before sale, and this land is released into the market as quickly as possible. However, other sites require upfront investment to make them more attractive development opportunities and speed their development; this may include dealing with physical constraints, putting in infrastructure, and securing planning certainty.

We are also adding to our portfolio through our £1.03 billion Land Assembly Fund. We are acquiring sites that, without our intervention, would not be available for housebuilding. For example, we acquired the Burgess Hill Northern Arc. This site had been stalled for more than ten years due to the complexities of the different land ownership and the need to deliver significant upfront strategic infrastructure works to provide a link road through the site in advance of homes being built.

Published 11 March 2019
Last updated 6 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. Amended references to the old procurement system DPP3 to the new Dynamic Purchasing System.

  2. Changed references to new purchasing system (DPS)

  3. First published.