Smaller housebuilders are to be given a better chance of bidding to develop public land following a major overhaul of the system.
Housing accelerator Homes England is making the process more flexible and simplifying access so smaller developers and new entrants can participate.
Homes England chief land and development officer Stephen Kinsella said: “This new digital system marks a huge step forward, making it much easier for developers to bid for our land. I’d encourage our current partners, as well as those we haven’t worked with before, to get their applications in so we can work together to create great places to live.”
A digitised delivery partnership system will enable housebuilders to join the agency’s preferred list whenever they choose rather than waiting every four years for the panel to be renewed.
The application will consider the size of the developer so SMEs bidding to deliver smaller sites will benefit from simpler entry criteria. But the requirements for developers bidding to deliver larger strategic sites will be more testing.
The National Federation of House Builders, NFB, said traditionally the panel of preferred partners had been dominated by larger companies.
More small sites need to come on stream
NFB’s housing and planning policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said the changes were a positive move but that more needed to be done.
“What we need is smaller sites on the system from one to 15 homes. And the next challenge would be to give Homes England strategic planning powers. For example, where a local authority is not meeting its housing delivery targets they could say we have a site available in your area and you must deliver homes on it.”
Although he added that less big sites such as parcels of land for 20 to 50 homes were beginning to come on stream.
Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders would be keen to support SMEs build on smaller plots.
Homes England said they were open for sustainable high-quality applications under the new system from today to 25th June with the official launch of the new system on 1st September 2021.
Housebuilders can tailor their membership to express interest in specific locations or types of development. The agency is encouraging developers to monitor its interactive Land Hub tool to see which sites are coming to market.
Homes England has a large swathe of public sector land transferred to it from the former regional development agencies as well as former Ministry of Defence, NHS and Network rail sites.