Housebuilders fear commercial developers and quangos will get 'special treatment' to boost competition
Housebuilders this week warned government housing consultant Kate Barker not to "rig the market" by releasing public land to competitors such as commercial developers.

Barker's interim report, published last December, promised to increase competition for housing delivery by suggesting reforms to the way land is made available for development.

But in its second submission to the Treasury-led Barker Review, the HBF said: "[The reforms] could be interpreted as leading to some form of land nationalisation, so the public sector could give land to favoured developers, whether housebuilders, commercial developers or registered social landlords."

The HBF raised fears that commercial developers would be given "special treatment" to encourage them to compete with its members.

An HBF spokesperson said: "We want equal competition between all those providing housing, with each sector to be treated fairly."

The call came a week after quango English Partnerships angered housebuilders by buying a prime site at a former RAF staff college in Bracknell, Berkshire, without going through a formal tendering process.

EP bought the land under a new rule that allows government agencies to maximise the use of public land before it is offered to the market.

We want equal competition between all those providing housing

HBF spokesperson

A number of housebuilders, including Wilson Bowden, Wimpey, Linden Homes and Crest Nicholson, had bid for the land before it was taken off the market. The firms say they spent up to £50,000 each putting together bids for it.

Wilson Bowden demanded talks with EP this week, and Linden chief executive Philip Davies expressed his concern. He said: "Housebuilding is going to come through more slowly because of EP's involvement. EP's role is to bring through difficult sites and there was no need for them to be involved in this one. We would have been on site this year."

The HBF's 32-page submission to the Barker review said the largest UK housebuilders can deliver an annual 10% increase in housing output in England over the next five years, raising completions across Britain to 225,000 a year. But it said it would only achieve this if there was an increase in "the supply of viable brownfield sites and polices to ensure greenfield supply is adequate to meet housing needs".

The report, published on the HBF's website on Tuesday, challenged the government's attempt to encourage more inner-city developments in the North by restricting the supply of greenfield sites. The HBF described this as a "deliberate misuse of policy".