The Government announced today that almost £58 million from the Brownfield Land Release Fund has been allocated to councils to create 5,600 homes on public sector sites. Of the funding, £5 million is allocated for self and custom build projects.
The £400 million Brownfield Fund was announced previously, but this specific allocation for local authority land is a new announcement today.
Commenting on the announcement, Lawrence Turner, Associate Director of Boyer planning consultancy, said:
While the new allocation announced today is good news for under-utilised urban sites, it only goes a small way to delivering the 300,000 homes required each year. Brownfield land is notoriously difficult to develop. By its nature, brownfield land is often contaminated, requiring expensive remediation works, which restricts scheme viability. While brownfield sites will be developed as a result of this announcement, those of less certain success will be stalled by changes in the housing market, build costs and in Government policy – such as changes in relation to phosphates which is an unresolved and very immediate concern that particularly affects brownfield sites.
With marginal viability, fewer affordable homes will be delivered, which will compound affordability issues in some areas. Furthermore, while brownfield land typically delivers smaller 1 and 2-bedroom properties, such as apartments, rather than the family homes which are in shortest supply.
While we support measures to encourage self-build homes, we also have reservations on an over-reliance on self-build, which will not deliver significant numbers and is likely to require Government interventions such as a relaxation of CIL and other tax incentives.
So while we welcome this announcement, as a necessary piece in the jigsaw that is the housing crisis, it is in reality only a very small piece.
An increase in the number and speed of delivery of new settlements will complete the jigsaw.