Councils Urged to Release More Land
The new Communities Secretary has urged councils to release more of their unused land ahead of the Housing Taskforce's first meeting. This land could then be utilised to help with the growing demand for properties.
Greg Clark, who took on the role of Communities Secretary following the general election, made the announcement before he addressed the Housing Taskforce. This is a ministerial group that is dedicated to resolving the housing shortfall. He has told English councils that they should assess the land that they currently have and release any for development that is not being used. This could then form new housing sites, providing much-needed properties in some of the country's key regions.
Addressing the Housing Shortfall
A shortage of land is one of the key reasons why we are continually failing to build enough new homes in this country. The National Housing Federation (NHF) believes that current proposals by local councils generally fail to highlight enough spare land to accommodate the required number of properties.
Since 2011 there has been a process whereby public-sector sites that are no longer required have been given over to housing developments. This has enabled 103,000 new properties to be constructed with features such as wrought iron balcony railings that home buyers are looking for. The government now wants to bring councils on board in order to extend the scheme.
The government's aim is to have enough land released in the coming five years to provide space for 150,000 additional homes. They will enable the process of releasing land to be completed quicker and will stop councils and other public-sector organisations from holding on to land. Councils have large amounts of surplus land, much of which is on brownfield sites. These would make ideal locations for new housing developments, providing more properties for the local community.
This process will be part of the Housing Bill, which was announced within the Queen's Speech. It will mean that all local authorities will have to keep a record of every brownfield site in their area that would be suitable for property development. This will include land belonging to them as well as other organisations that have redundant space.
These proposals by the government will go some way to addressing the housing shortfall issue that we currently have in this country, but we still need to ensure that the sites are available in the right locations.