2020 land target unlikely to be met

A new report has argued that the government is unlikely to meet by 2020 its target to release sufficient public sector land to build 160,000 homes.

The National Audit Office has said that while the government is expected to achieve its target to raise £5 billion in proceeds by selling land and property, the report claims that the government currently does not expect to reach the 160,000 target until after 2025. The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government sought departments to have released enough land for around 65,000 homes by 2020. By December 2018, land with a capacity for 38,166 homes had been released.

MHCLG has identified several challenges to delivering the target. For example, public bodies might still be using land to provide services; sales of some large, complex sites have been delayed due to planning issues; sites might require decontamination; and in some cases, progress is hampered by not legally owning or controlling all the sites that could potentially count towards their targets (for example sites owned by NHS foundation trusts).

Martin Tett, Local Government Association Housing spokesman, said: “It is vital that we build more of the right homes in the right places, and the intelligent use of public land can be important for meeting long-term housing and public service challenges.

“Through programmes like One Public Estate, councils have shown that they are best-placed to lead efforts to make better use of public assets, such as releasing unused or surplus land for housing, and are committed to bringing forward sites to ensure that enough homes and the necessary infrastructure are built to meet local needs.

“The Government need to use its forthcoming Spending Review to empower councils to speed up developments and set planning fees locally so they can cover the cost of processing applications and ensure planning departments are adequately resourced, so that they can support the delivery of new homes that our communities desperately need.”

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