Headlines: February 24th, 2014

Ministers have urged local councils to release surplus land for development. Whitehall departments are spearheading the sell off with 430 sites sold to date.

Ministers claim that the Whitehall sell off of brown field sites will allow 68,000 homes to be built. This is equivalent to a town the size of Blackpool. Redundant hospitals and military sites feature prominently among the sites sold off.

Property specialists have been working with Whitehall departments that have surplus land, challenging them to release as much as they can to build new homes. Today’s figures show the government is on track to release enough land for 100,000 homes by 2015, with over two-thirds of the public sector land programme completed.

Since January 2014 a new Right to Contest has enabled the public to challenge the government about land and property they feel could be put to better use, and ask for it to be sold.

A new ‘Rightmove-style’ search engine will be launched for all government property. Covering real estate from motorway lay-bys to vacant airfields, it will make it possible to search the government’s property portfolio by town and postcode, with maps showing the extent of the estate.

The public can also challenge councils to release land and property, under the Right to Reclaim Land, and ministers are encouraging the public to consider if there are sites in their area that they could put to better use.

Independent estimates suggest that the public sector holds up to 40% of land suitable for development and around 27% of brownfield land that is appropriate for new housing.