Bids Open for Ambitious Land Release Fund


After several false starts, the DCLG’s ‘Land Release’ fund announced in the Housing White Paper has opened for bids.

Operated as a partnership of the DCLG, the Cabinet Office and the Local Government Association’s One Public Estate programme, the fund will be used to help councils overcome barriers to development on brownfield land. However, at just £54 million, the government target of unlocking enough council owned land for the provision of 160,000 by 2020 seems more than a little ambitious.

Local authorities will be able to bid for funding to cover the costs of land remediation and the provision of small-scale infrastructure. At a time when councils are facing unprecedented pressure on their finances, the government hopes that the funding will help bring forward land and development that would otherwise lie dormant.

Interesting, in a change from previous announcements of the same money, this time around no mention is made of priority being given to “innovative delivery models” or areas of “high housing demand”.

Councils making successful bids are expected to generate £615m in new homes bonuses and other tax revenue; save £158million from no longer having to maintain surplus land; create 44,000 new jobs and release land for 25,000 homes by 2020 – signalling just how ambitious the government is being with its targets to increase the delivery of new housing.

Alok Sharma, the Housing and Planning Minister said in a statement: ‘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’.

While what Mr Sharma says is true, £54m won’t spread too far and successful bids will probably need further funding to unlock them for the market – the simple sites have already developed. All in all, this re-announcement may simply be one to show that the “Government is getting on with governing”.