A new system making it easier for SMEs to gain a slice of Homes England’s £20bn worth of development opportunities is up and running.
The government agency hopes it will be simpler for SMEs to come forward having replaced its panel of partners with a ‘dynamic purchasing system’ where new players can apply to join at any point. Under the old arrangement, the panel of partners was renewed every four years making it less flexible.
Homes England chief land and development officer Stephen Kinsella said: “This marks a significant step forward in the way we work with developers to build homes.
“We’ve also simplified the application process, so whether you’re a large, nationwide housebuilder, or a small local developer, it will be easier for you to access land you want to build on.”
Initial applications opened earlier this year, with SMEs accounting for 24 out of the 66 which were chosen to be partners.
Housing minister Christopher Pincher said: “We welcome this change which will support SMEs while providing more opportunities for homeownership to hard-working people across the country.”
Homes England would like all housebuilders interested in working with the agency to monitor its newly updated land hub when they see a site of interest.
Housebuilders can define what sites they’d like to develop
The new system allows housebuilders to express interest in specific locations or types of development. It will also be available to other public sector landowners including local councils and registered providers enabling them to procure a housebuilder or contractor to build on their land.
Homes England has several sites it is planning to issue expressions of interest for in the coming months.
This includes a 14-acre site in Burgess Hill, part of the Northern Arc scheme, which will support around 350 homes, 30 per cent of which will be affordable homes. The site will be divided into two or three subplots, making it suited to SME developers.
Another imminent site is in Cradley Heath, Dudley. Over the last couple of years, Homes England has cleared disused industrial buildings from the site, and it now has outline planning permission for 89 homes.
Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said making smaller plots more easily available for SMEs was a positive step and that lenders were keen to offer construction loans to help them fund developments.