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Cabinet Office opens sixth funding round of One Public Estate

A £54m package to enable councils to release unused or surplus land for housing has today been launched by the DCLG in partnership with the One Public Estate (OPE).

The government will provide £45m of the cash through its new Land Release Fund, and will work with the OPE – a partnership between the LGA and the Cabinet Office – to invest the remaining £9m of the money through the scheme’s sixth funding round.

It’s hoped that the cash will drive forward councils to release enough land to build at least 160,000 properties by 2020.

Local authorities have been invited to bid for the funding to support land remediation and small-scale infrastructure – bringing sites forward for housing that otherwise would have not been available for new homes.

Via the OPE, councils are also being asked to think about projects centred around co-location, property consolidation and smarter working in order to make government estate more efficient. Speaking to PSE shortly before the fresh round of the programme was launched, its programme director at the LGA, Brian Reynolds, said he hopes at least another hundred co-locations between local and central government are rolled out by 2020.

By 2020, councils are expected to have £615m in capital receipts, £158m saved in running costs, and are hoped to create 44,000 jobs and release land for 25,000 new homes.

“OPE is enabling local authorities to make better use of their land and property and deliver tangible benefits to their communities,” said minister for government resilience and efficiency, Caroline Nokes. “I am delighted that this new funding round will enable even more councils to deliver the homes, jobs and services that local people need.”

Housing and planning minister Alok Sharma added: “To build the homes this country needs, we need to increase the supply of land available to build more homes, more quickly. As a major landowner, local authorities have a crucial role to play in this task.

“Through this innovative cross-government partnership, we will be able to work with councils much more effectively, helping them to meet local housing needs and transform local areas.”

LGA chairman Lord Porter also commented that through OPE, which received strong investment from former chancellor George Osborne as a result of its widespread success, councils have already shown that they are perfectly positioned to act as leaders of place and deliver cross public-sector asset management.

“It is great to see in practice how the programme is delivering more integrated services, local economic growth, and supporting more sustainable local government,” he stated. “Councils are committed to building the new homes their communities need and I’m pleased to see the announcement of the Local Authority Land Release Fund as part of this next funding round.

“It’s great to see two government programmes aligning to offer a more coherent programme to our local communities.”

Our full interview with Reynolds will be published in the upcoming August/September issue of PSE.

Top Image: Dominic Lipinski, PA Wire

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