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Government unveils plans to build and sell homes on public sector land

The government has unveiled plans that could mean it directly commissions, builds and even sells homes on public sector land. 

Unveiled in the National Infrastructure 2014 document, a pilot programme on a government-owned former RAF base in Northstowe, near Cambridge, will see the Homes and Communities Agency leading the development of 10,000 homes.

The plans, which have been spearheaded by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, have also been given further backing by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement. 

It was stated that the government recognises under-used public land can play a vital role in delivering new homes, and commits to releasing enough land for up to 150,000 homes between 2015 and 2020. 

With regards to the development of Northstowe, the government will undertake an evaluation of the development, and of the feasibility and economic impacts of pursuing this model on a larger scale. 

Osborne outlined that the government will report by Budget 2015 on the delivery vehicle, governance and investment in the site. 

The chancellor added: “We back business and we build infrastructure and we will support growth across the whole UK. 

“But in the end, Britain’s future lies in the hands of its people and their aspirations. The aspiration to save, to work, and to buy a home. Today we support each one.” 

With regards to the innovative property-building policy, the Treasury stated that the government will make an upfront investment but expects that later costs will be met through the sale of land and homes. 

Alexander said: “In my view, as a country I think we need to think much more radically about how we deliver the homes that we need as a country. This seems to me to be an idea that can help change that. It is right to consider this plan. I think a lot more homes could be built on land currently owned by the public sector.” 

The British Property Federation (BPF) welcomed the government’s ambitions. The organisations chief executive Liz Peace said: “Delivering the right infrastructure at a local, regional and national level is essential, and the [National Infrastructure] announcement marks a welcome step in ensuring that the planning system works more effectively in bringing forward development and creating the conditions for growth.” 

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