Housing Minister Kris Hopkins has said the government has sold enough brownfield land to build 68,000 homes, the same number as in the whole of Blackpool.
Over 430 sites are said to have been sold across the country, with every new home supporting up to 2 jobs, a total of over 135,000 jobs as the homes are built.
Under the public sector land programme, the government had promised to release thousands of acres of previously-developed land and property, which the Minister said had now been fulfilled, with Whitehall departments that had surplus land being challenged by property specialists to release as much as possible to build new homes.
Mr. Hopkins said: ‘The government is a major landholder and hard-working taxpayers expect us to use these assets effectively. That’s why we have already delivered on our promise to release thousands of acres of brownfield land, the same number of homes as are in the whole of Blackpool, to protect the greenbelt and build new homes where they are needed.’
Whitehall plans to launch a ‘Rightmove-style’ search engine for the government’s property portfolio that can be searched by town and postcode and will have maps showing the extent of the estate, covering everything from real estate on motorway lay-bys to vacant airfields and Mr. Hopkins called on house-builders and developers to use the land to build more homes.
The Housing Minister urged councils to follow the lead set by central government by making their unused land available for development and launched a new Right to Contest this January, enabling members of the public to challenge the government about land or property that could be put to better use and ask for it to be sold, as well as the current Right to Reclaim Land that allows the public to challenge councils to release land or property if they feel there are sites in their area that could be put to better use.
Mr. Hopkins said: ‘We’re making it easier for the public to see what land we own, and challenge us if they think they could use it better. Councils should now follow our lead, and consider if their land and property could be sold and used for delivering new homes, jobs and businesses in their communities.’
One of the sites sold by Whitehall is the 1950s Princess Marina Hospital in Northampton, which has been sold to Persimmon Homes to build 550 houses and 4000 square metres of commercial space; the first homes are now on the market and available on the Help to Buy scheme.
Another site is Booth Hall Hospital in Salford, which is in the first phase of building 150 homes comprised of two, three or four bedrooms, in a range of designs, many of which are also available on the Help to Buy scheme.