Headlines: April 9th, 2008

Unused land owned by the public sector is to be turned over to housing as part of moves to increase the supply of more affordable homes. The National Regeneration Agency, English Partnerships, is to set out which sites will be used for 30,000 new properties. The areas will include former coalfields and surplus local authority land.

Plans for developments on the land will be subject to the full planning process. Developers will have to provide a high level of affordable homes and build them to a high environmental standard with all the properties being 25 per cent more energy efficient than those previously built.

The Housing Minister, Caroline Flint, said there was an urgent need for more homes. “Our plans for public land, and tougher building regulations, mean we can deliver the homes our young families and first time buyers desperately need, whilst protecting and maintaining the environment. It is important that we look at what more can be done to support households most at risk from the impact of the global credit crunch, working closely with the Council of Mortgage Lenders.”

The move to make unused public sector land available for housing was announced alongside plans to support key workers and other first time buyers by making available grants of 1,500 pounds for buyers who take up a shared equity loan under the Government’s Open Market Homebuy scheme. Ms Flint and Treasury Ministers will also convene a working group next week to bring together the Council of Mortgage Lenders and industry representatives to discuss what more the industry could and should be doing to support borrowers in difficulty.