Easier public land disposal scheme aims to woo SMEs
The government’s housing accelerator Homes England is simplifying how it engages with developers and housebuilders to bring public land to market.
It’s announced a new purchasing system where housebuilders can apply at any time when land comes on stream. Under the old scheme, developers had to join a panel which was renewed every four years.
Homes England chief executive Nick Walkley said: “Our new dynamic purchasing system and land led approach really does modernise how we invite bids for public land. I hope our partners can see that we’ve actively listened to their feedback and acted on it.”
Home England hopes the new approach will open public sector sites more widely to SMEs as well as the large housebuilders.
SMEs bidding to deliver smaller sites will benefit from simpler entry criteria than those applying to deliver larger strategic sites where there will be more testing. Larger developers will be expected to show leadership around design quality, building safety and improving equality and diversity in the industry.
Housebuilders can tailor their membership to express interest in specific locations or types of development to give the agency the ability to more effectively market sites to interested parties.
Throughout the lifetime, of the new system housebuilders will be able to apply to enter new categories and amend their membership. Homes England hopes this will give SMEs the chance to take on more ambitious schemes as they grow.
National Federation of Builders housing and planning policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said: “The dynamic system is an improvement – when you have the resources, or a piece of land comes up in your area then you can go for it.
“However, SMEs have previously been promised improved access yet remained shut out of the process. The real reform would be to give Homes England planning power.”
Mr Wojtulewicz added requiring local authorities to publish a small-sites register would be another step that would really make a difference to smaller developers.
The new system will open for the first round of applications in April with the option to apply to join at any time when Homes England publicises sites that have come on stream. It will also help other public sector bodies, including local authorities and registered providers find a housebuilder or contractor to build on their land.