100,000 new homes could be built on government-owned land in London

Emma Haslett
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Potential sites for new homes on government-owned land in London (Source: Savills)

As many as 100,000 homes could be built on land in London owned by the government, according to research by property services firm Savills.

The figures, which also found that across the whole of the UK, public land could provide enough space for two million new homes, suggest a mass government land sell-off could go some way to providing a solution for the oft-cited housing crisis.

The report suggested that the 13,000 hectares of sites suitable for homes on Ministry of Defence, Department for Rural Affairs and Department for Communities and Local Government land could provide room for up to 600,000. Land owned by the Greater London Authority, local authorities and the NHS topped that up to two million.

According to Susan Emmett, Savills' director of residential research, the research used a database of government land assets, stripping out assets such as national parks, national heritage sites and sites on the green belt which are "unlikely to come forward".

"That left us with 40 per cent of government sites," she said.

And although the analysis takes into account assets such as doctors' surgeries, she made clear that it would not be a case of "replacing" the site.

"You might have a mixed-use site, so you might have a doctor's surgery and some houses, or you might reassign the site," she said.

The government has pledged to release enough public land to build 100,000 new homes between 2011-2015, although so far it has only released land capable of delivering 68,000 homes, said Savills. The NHS, which controls 11 per cent of the whole estate, released 24 hectares of land between April last year and July this year.

Figures by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) show 2012/13 had one of the lowest house building rates since 1923, with just 108,190 homes completed. The HBF has previously said the UK needs to build 220,000 homes a year to keep up with demand.

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