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Extra government cash put forward to release land for housing

Words: Laura Edgar
Housing / iStock

Cabinet Office minister Lord Agnew has announced a £30 million boost to the government’s Land Release Fund (LRF) and the One Public Estate (OPE) programme. 

Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s annual conference, Agnew explained that the money is to help release surplus land for housing and support local economies to bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The LRF focuses on small sites and supporting SME builders. Councils will be able to bid for a share of £20 million to help to pay for remediation works and infrastructure so that any of their surplus land can be brought forward for housing. 

The fund is currently supporting 73 council projects (including Broadland District Council), which are set to release more than 6,000 homes by next March. 

To support the earliest stages of the development, the OPE programme will provide £10 million. New and existing partnerships can bid for a share of the money to go towards practical support for property programmes. The OPE programme is currently supporting the Burnholme development in York, a modern health and wellbeing hub with new homes and spaces for education, health and worship.

Housing minister Christopher Pincher said the new funding would help councils “right across England to turn unloved, unused land into new homes and communities where they are needed most”. 

“It is an important part of how we are working with local government and the housing industry at every level to support our recovery from the impact of the pandemic.”

James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: “Councils continue to lead their communities through the coronavirus crisis, working closely with other local partners including health and emergency services.

“One Public Estate will play a crucial role as we move into the next phase and help with the local and national economic recovery. This additional funding will support councils to make better use of their assets, including their spare land and property, to help join up local services.”

“This in turn will create new savings and efficiencies, as we look towards the future of local public services after the pandemic.”

The government said the money would be allocated before the end of this financial year.

Image credit | iStock