Some 820ha of land - enough for 11,000 homes - to be sold at ’market value’ to private developers

The Homes and Communities Agency is to accelerate plans to sell 820ha of development land in the next two years, as part of a government-wide plan to sell off £10bn of land to private developers.

The strategy will mean all of the HCA sites that have been acclerated, enough for 11,000 homes, are sold off at “market value”. This has been warmly welcomed by housebuilders. Originally the agency had earmarked the sale of land for 8,000 homes, but has brought forward plans for plots for a further 3,000 homes. The sale is 11% of all HCA land holdings.

In total, the government plans to sell enough land for 100,000 homes by 2015, with the HCA only the first to publicly put all its sites on the table, with publication this week of a land disposal strategy. The Ministry of Defence and Defra also confirmed the release of individual sites in advance of full plans this autumn.

Claire O’Shaughnessy, head of land and regeneration at the HCA, said developers will be offered the chance to buy the sites at deferred terms as standard, with potential buyers expected to submit bids on both an upfront cash price basis and a deferred terms basis. The HCA will then choose which bid to accept.

O’Shaughnessy said the HCA expects to hold on to the freehold of the land until development is complete, meaning the agency will be able to keep control of the construction timetable. “This will allow us to set long stop dates and milestones with a strong enforcement ability if those aren’t being met.”

She added that the expectation of market value “for the particular mix of uses” envisaged under the local plan, meant the HCA would not be forced to sell off sites for the highest possible price in the face of opposition from local councils.

The strategy has been criticised by Labour, which has accused the government of selling “land at market prices with no conditions.”

The Public Expenditure Committee will chase up departments to ensure they follow suit with accelerated land disposal plans.