English Partnerships is in talks with strategic health authorities over acquiring more hospital sites for Housing. The agency is aiming to provide land for 14,000 new houses.

David Hughes, who has recently taken over as head of EP’s public sector land team, said: “We’re piloting initiatives with SHAs in the South-east and North-west.”

As part of the pilot the agency has held discussions with the Greater Manchester, Cumbria & Lancashire and Kent & Medway authorities to buy more sites.

Hughes said the authorities, which are responsible for planning healthcare services, would work with trusts to identify sites no longer needed for operational purposes.

The North-west and South-east pilot projects represent an extension of EP’s hospital land programme, under which the agency bought 96 former NHS sites across England for £320m to sell on to housing developers.

The agency will be marketing a number of sites to developers over the coming months. These include: Milford hospital in Hampshire, Cane Hill in Coulsdon, Graylingwell in Chichester, Runwell hospital in Essex and Shotley Bridge in County Durham.

Each site can accommodate several hundred homes and many are former asylums in attractive rural locations.

We are piloting initiatives in the South-east and North-west

David Hughes, EP

The agency has tendered for developers for seven sites under the existing land programme. Last week it asked for bids for the Turner Village site in Colchester and is about to do the same at St Margaret’s in Epping.

Hughes said Miller Homes, George Wimpey and David Wilson Homes had been shortlisted to develop the 46 ha former Coldeast hospital site in Fareham, Hampshire, which is lined up for 150 homes.

EP is due to appoint developers over the next few weeks for the 14 ha Countess of Chester in Bishop Tindale, Oxfordshire’s 40 ha Fairmile hospital and the 60 ha former Whittingham hospital outside Preston.

Out of the 96 sites bought by EP, Hughes said 15 would account for three-quarters of the 14,000 homes to be built. The remaining smaller sites will be packaged together in mini-portfolios. “It’s a lengthy programme, so it won’t happen that quickly,” said John Callcutt, EP’s chief executive.

Hughes said 81 of the 96 sites had already transferred to EP from NHS ownership.

The hospital sites programme was launched in 2003 after deputy prime minister John Prescott aborted the NHS’ scheme to sell off its surplus land to developer Miller. He opposed the deal because it would not provide sufficient affordable housing.