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UK govt pledges to release land for 100,000 new homes by 2015

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said that rapid progress is being made to boost house building and Government departments with significant landholdings have published, for the first time, strategies that set out how their formerly used land and property has the capacity to deliver desperately needed new homes.

Over the summer these departments have moved swiftly to identify land and property that could be released for new development, he said, adding that this builds on the 11,000 housing starts that will be achieved through the release of land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency.
 
The amount of previously developed land owned by the public sector is more than twice the size of Leicester, and its development could support as many as 200,000 construction and related jobs.

At the same time the Minister announced fresh steps to help communities across the country reclaim and develop hundreds of acres of unused public sector land and buildings, which could be used to deliver the schemes communities want to see in their areas.

Members of the public will now be able to request a sale of public land and buildings by filling in a simple and user friendly form. It will replace a system that is so obscure and restrictive that it has hardly ever been used, with only one successful application in the past 13 years.

The improved process for requesting the sale of public land and property will be one way of applying for land to be released by Government departments, and will also apply to land owned by councils and other public bodies.

Alongside a website that maps and provides details about public sector assets owned by councils and other public bodies, the new process to request the sale of disused land and buildings will form the bedrock of the Community Right to Reclaim Land.

‘The Government is one of the country's biggest landlords, so at a time when we desperately need more homes, we have a critical role in making new sites available for developers and communities,’ said Shapps.

‘So I'm delighted that Government departments have quickly taken up the ambitious challenge to release land with capacity for over 50,000 new homes, and that property specialists will continue to work with these departments to make sure that no stone is left unturned. I will look to ensure that as much of this public land as possible is available under our innovative Build Now, Pay Later model, helping get developers on site and laying the foundations for these homes as quickly as possible,’ he explained.

‘I'm also pleased to announce that communities now have a new option to improve their local area by developing disused public land and buildings, instead of being forced to battle through a quagmire of bureaucratic obstruction and indifference. Under our new Community Right to Reclaim Land, local people will now be able to see at the click of a button if disused land and property in their area is owned by a public body. And from today, ordinary people will have a simple system for making a case to use that land and improve their local area, with a promise they will now be listened to,’ he added.

The Minister will also look to extend the innovative Build Now, Pay Later model to as much formerly used public land as possible so developers and communities can get on the site and start building, paying for the land only after homes are built.

Property specialists will continue to work with each department and challenge them to release as much land as they can for new homes, and a Cabinet Committee will carefully analyse each department's plans to ensure every possible site is made available for house building.

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