Whitehall finds surplus land for 80,000 homes

1 Feb 12
The government has so far identified enough spare public land to accommodate 80,000 homes, housing minister Grant Shapps has said.

By Vivienne Russell | 2 February 2012

The government has so far identified enough spare public land to accommodate 80,000 homes, housing minister Grant Shapps has said.

This puts it on course to meet its target of finding sites for 100,000 new homes by 2015.

The latest figures follow October’s announcement that four Whitehall departments had between them found surplus land that could host 54,000 new homes. These were: the Ministry of Defence; Department of Health; Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and Department for Transport.

Speaking yesterday, Shapps said the Department for Communities and Local Government was now trying to identify more surplus land in talks with six other Whitehall departments and Network Rail, the BBC and the Royal Mail.

The six departments involved in the latest search are: the Home Office; the Treasury; the Ministry of Justice; the Department for Energy and Climate Change; the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Shapps also revealed that, this year, payments worth £432m have been made under the New Homes Bonus. This is the second year of the scheme, which rewards communities that support the building of new homes or the bringing of empty homes back into use.

The housing minister said the bonus payments were double what they had been in the scheme’s first year.

He cited Wychavon in Worcestershire, where the community has received £200,000 of bonus cash to fund local regeneration projects, and a further £100,000 has gone to local charities.

Shapps said: ‘The bonus has gone from being a piece of paper to established policy. And it's here to stay. So it's now time for all councils to talk to the people in their area about how they want their bonus spent.

‘And let's be clear – it is the community’s bonus. So it is only fair that they take part in discussions and any decisions about its use.’

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