Stonewater gives ‘cautious’ welcome to Government’s 40-day land bidding head start

Stonewater has cautiously welcomed confirmation from the Cabinet Office that housing associations are to be given a 40-day head start over private sector developers when bidding for public land.

The opportunity to bid ahead of private sector companies follows the recent reclassification of associations as public bodies which enables them to bid for public land.

“Anything which makes it easier for housing associations to access land must be broadly welcomed. However, from the level of detail published so far, it is not clear that these proposals will enable land to be sold at a price which allows housing associations to build affordable homes across a range of tenures for people who cannot access the market. These homes are badly needed in communities up and down the country," says Jonathan Layzell, Stonewater Director Designate, Development.

The news follows the Government’s plans to sell-off some of its public land to enable 160,000 new homes to be built as part of the Government commitment to provide one million new homes of which 400,000 of these will be affordable, by 2020.

“One of the biggest challenges for housing associations in seeking to build new homes is access to land. If the Government prioritises releasing land to us, the sector will be able to step up its contribution to delivering the Government's 2020 target of one million new homes. Certainty of land availability, released at a price we can afford, will allow us to commit earlier, and build homes faster, including the Government's flagship starter homes as part of a diverse solution to meet the needs of our communities," says Jonathan Layzell.

“Depending on how this is rolled out, the release of public sector land may also help us to invest in locally significant larger scale projects to regenerate underused sites. These types of projects allow us to plan investment more effectively and to meet the wider needs of the communities in which we work by building across a range of housing tenures.”