No Development Site? No Problem!

Harriet Brown
Harriet Brown
2 min read

Homes England’s Land Hub is the new way to find the perfect plot for your investment project

Want to build a residential development in the UK? No problem! Due to a chronic housing shortage, coupled with ever-rising house prices and increasing rental returns, investing in property in the UK is always a good idea. But if you want to build your own development, potential projects are often stymied at the first hurdle - finding land. As a small, densely populated country, with stringent planning laws, it can be hard for potential investors to source sites that are suitable for new projects. While large-scale housebuilders have their pick of roomy brownfield and greenfield sites in which to build new towns, often finding a plot for a smaller development can be tricky. So, where to start?

Well, one place you may not have thought of looking is with the UK government. The government is a major landowner, holding land assets of over 9,000 hectares spread across the UK. These sites are widespread and diverse, including former coalfields, assets inherited from other public bodies such as the Commission for New Towns, and also sites acquired from landowners such as the Ministry of Defence (such as former barracks or air bases), the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Care. The government is also continuing to add to its property portfolio using its £1.03bn Land Assembly Fund, which is used to purchase sites which would otherwise be difficult to use for housebuilding, such as contaminated land, or sites with complex ownership issues or those requiring infrastructure. And all these sites are being made available for residential development by the government’s housing division, Homes England.

Why is the government selling off all this land? Well, Homes England was created to help tackle the housing crisis and to ensure that more homes are being built in the places in which people wish to live. Homes England wants to speed up housebuilding and create a more resilient housing market, as well as ensuring that the necessary development pipeline of 300,000 new homes each year is met. And it seems to be working - over the past five years the government has sold more than 5,000 hectares on 2,100 sites. As well as freeing up land for housing, this has also raised over £5bn for the public purse - a win-win situation.

So how do you get a piece of the action? Homes England sells small development plots (up to 70 units) in three different ways: by auction, on the open market, and through their own Delivery Partner Dynamic Purchasing System, or DPS. Sites can be viewed on the interactive Land Hub, which shows not only the sites which are currently being actively marketed, but also those expected to come up for disposal in the next six months - giving developers plenty of time for planning. The Land Hub shows would-be purchasers site information, boundaries, and even drone footage. So if you’re on the lookout for your next investment opportunity, why not start here?

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