Latest Public Sector News

13.07.16

DCLG makes ‘slow start’ on releasing public sector land for housing

A scheme to dispose of public sector land in order to build new homes has released just 5-8% of the land needed to meet its goals by 2020.

The DCLG land disposal scheme aims to release enough land to build 160,000 homes by the end of the decade.

However, an interim report from the National Audit Office (NAO) shows that by March 2016, the government had disposed of land at a value of £72m with enough capacity to build 8,580 homes, or 5% of the programme.  It has also got rid of land for a further 4,583 homes, or 3% of the programme, but the Homes and Communities Agency has not received confirmation that this land will be used for homes.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “While progress has been made, DCLG still has a lot to do to meet the government’s commitment to dispose of land for 160,000 homes by 2020. The current programme has had a relatively slow start.

“At most, 8% of the overall commitment has been achieved in the first full 10 months of the programme, meaning departments must now dispose of more land in each of the remaining four years than they achieved in any year of the previous land disposals programme.”

Surplus sites identified by the government will support an additional 104,461 homes, or 65% of the programme, but over 50% of these are considered ‘high risk’, meaning they have issues that could prevent exchange of contracts by 2020.

A Public Accounts Committee report last year warned that the DCLG cannot demonstrate the success of the land disposal project.

Following the report, the DCLG promised to publish details of the aims, objectives, scope, data and monitoring arrangements for the programme in spring 2016, but has not yet done so. It said it will publish an outline to this approach in the summer and further details in autumn 2016.

Earlier this year, a PSE Freedom of Information request found that the Right to Contest, a scheme designed to allow members of the public to request that surplus government-owned land be put up for sale, had led to just six sales since it was introduced in January 2014.

A DCLG spokesperson said: “The National Audit Office agree that progress has been made, we have measures in place and will monitor the progress of land development including the number of homes built.

“We are fully committed to accelerating the release of public sector land openly and transparently and expect land for tens of thousands of new homes to be released this year.”

(Image c. Clive Gee from PA Images)

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