Tory conference latest: Gavin Barwell fleshes out more detail on £2bn Accelerated Construction policy

Large public owned sites will be broken up into small plots in order to encourage SME builders to develop them under the government’s new Accelerated Construction initiaive, housing minister Gavin Barwell has pledged.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid announced £2bn of extra borrowing to accelerate construction of tens of thousands of homes on brownfield sites yesterday, calling it the “largest state-backed” housing programme for four decades.

At a fringe event, housing minister Gavin Barwell fleshed out more detail on the Accelerated Construction scheme.

Under the plans, large public owned sites will be broken up into small plots in order to encourage SME builders to develop them.

Barwell said the government would not be taking its traditional approach of selling off large chunks of land to the highest bidder.

He said: “Historically, large parcels of land have been sold to a developer. The Accelerated Construction idea is us getting actively involved in breaking the site up and using the release of that land to bring in a wider range of developers.”

Providing a larger pipeline of sites would also give smaller developers an incentive to embrace off-site construction, he added.

Barwell said that the government’s commitment was to provide 160,000 homes on its own sites by 2020 with councils matching this figure.

However, he acknowedged that much of the land on the Whitehall list of potential housing sites was “quite complex” to deliver, such as MoD bases that are still in operational use. There are “difficult issues that shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Barwell also said that he would stop councils from passing the buck on difficult decisions about housing by allowing applications to be called in.

“Applications should only be called in where they raise issues of national significance. I want a local planning system and my role is to insist that every single council doesn’t duck its hard decisions of meeting needs in its area. How they do it is up to them but i will not allow them to duck the decision.”

David Montague, chief executive of registered social landlord London & Quadrant, welcomed Javid’s announcement on housing at a meeting sponsored by the Builders Merchants Federation last night.

He said: “These announcements recogise the vital role of government investment in land and investing in new entrants to the market. We are most excited about the tone of determinatio and ambition that is shared by housing associations.”