Agency writes to English councils seeking land and plans to tender for contractors within a fortnight

The Homes and Communities Agency has written to the heads of all councils in England to ask them to identify land on which it can build new homes in partnership with contractors.

The HCA said last week it wanted to initiate a pilot programme to build 500 homes on its own land in joint ventures with contractors, including Wates, Skanska and Bouygues. This week it said it would expand the programme if were successful.

The agency plans to issue an Official Journal notice within two weeks seeking interest from contractors.

Under the initiative, announced as part of last week’s Building Britain’s Future programme, the HCA said it would offer public land with grants, planning permission and basic demolition on a “deferred payment” basis to contractors, and recover the value on sales.

In the letter to authorities, Sir Bob Kerslake, the HCA’s chief executive, said: “We are seeking to identify sites in wider public ownership that could play a part in this challenge, including existing stalled schemes and projects with multiple phases.”

Contractors such as Lovells, Galliford Try and Mace have said they are interested in participating in the scheme. Wates told Building it could build up to 3,000 homes a year if the partnership were a success.

The HCA will divide its land into plots large enough for 100 homes to ensure competition. Land must already have planning permission and cannot already be claimed by a developer.

Trevor Beattie, the HCA’s corporate director responsible for the programme, said: “We’ll be responding to bids contractors put forward based on the relative share of risk and reward and quality of their offer.”

Beattie added that contractors pledging offsite production methods would be more likely to win contracts.

Steve Trusler, strategy director at Wates Living Space, said: “We’re really encouraged to hear what the HCA is thinking about these things.”