Speaking ahead of the first meeting of a dedicated ministerial Housing Taskforce, Greg Clark is urging councils in England to analyse what land they have that can be turned over to housing. Whitehall departments are also being ordered to step up their land disposal programmes.
Since 2011 enough formerly-used, surplus public sector land has been released for 103,000 new homes, but the initiative is being stepped up, with local councils being brought in.
The secretary of state said: “The scale of our ambition is clear – to release enough surplus and redundant public sector land for 150,000 homes over the next five years. I want to see departments going further and faster than before, starting right away, to loosen their grip on sites that are standing idle and to turn them over for house building.
“Councils are significant landowners and town halls should be looking at their estate, particularly brownfield sites, and thinking about how they could make better use of their holdings by releasing land for new homes for their communities.”
Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells, took over from Eric Pickles as secretary of state for communities & local government last month after the general election.
The Housing Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, will require local authorities to establish and maintain a register of brownfield land suitable for housing development, which will include their own land.
Already some councils are releasing land, including:
- Bristol City Council, which is releasing land at the Ashton Gate Sidings for 200 new homes
- Surrey County Council, which is working with Spelthorne Borough Council and the Ministry of Justice to free up land for the provision of 300 new homes
- Cheshire West & Chester Cuncil, which is releasing sites in Ellesmere Port as part of plans to regenerate the town centre, including the potential removal of 15 acres of brownfield land in the town centre itself and 42 acres on the edge of town and provision of 1,880 new homes.