The head of one of the UK’s leading auction networks has welcomed new housing secretary Sajid Javid’s pledge to deliver more sites for housebuilding.
While some are pleased the Minister is focusing on all land in public ownership, others are urging him to consider the thousands of smaller plots of land currently sitting in local authority ownership.
Rory Daly, chief executive officer of SDL Auctions, commented: “Over the past 15 years, we have sold many such sites for local authorities such as Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Sandwell through our auctions and many of these sites now have owner-occupiers living in houses built on them.”
“Smaller sites tend to be snapped up at auction by the smaller developers – developers who cannot afford to sit on sites in a land bank but must turn a profit as soon as possible for cashflow reasons.”
With previously underused land being bought by local people who are now paying local council tax, it is now a ‘win-win circle’ that Daly believes can only benefit the local community.
Savid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, claimed he would use his Cabinet status to deliver more sites for housebuilding during his first statement since the rebranding of his department as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
He also revealed that the recipients of the £2.3 billion housing infrastructure grants (which will enable councils to develop new sites) would be released in the coming weeks.
With Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, named as the newest Housing Minister, Daly has high expectations of the outcome.
He said: “Dominic Raab is the 16th housing minister in 20 years, in a role which ironically has become something of a revolving door in government. I hope he and Sajid Javid can pull together to really make a difference.”
“It is not just local authorities that are sitting on sites, a lot of government departments have public sector land that can be turned into homes.”
According to Daly, it was important that the government did not solely look into the national housing shortage. He added: “Delivering more housing has a crucial part to play in a healthy economy. It means increased productivity, delivering homes in the right places and must be seen in the overall context of the need also to free up land for employment use.”
“The auction house cuts through all the prevarication and is the ideal solution to what to do with a site that nobody can make their mind up about. If a council is willing to state that a site is considered suitable for housing, then let the market decide.”
“Every new house pays council tax. With local authorities constantly under huge budgetary pressure, this can only be good news all round.”
Going forward, Daly said: “What we need is real evidence of concerted action from Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab and this country could enter a housebuilding era not seen since the end of the second world war.”