Government releases housing land

The Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, has today announced ambitious plans for Government and Council held land to be released for housing. With the aim of kick starting the house building industry and creating up to 25,000 jobs, the hope is to build 100,000 new homes on this land by 2015.

Every Government department with significant land banks is being required by the autumn to identify and publish plans to release land holdings to developers. To help ensure that no department tries to hold on to land the Minister has instituted twin external reviews. Firstly, property specialists will be tasked with challenging each department to identify the maximum amount of land available and secondly the Public Expenditure Committee is to closely review every proposal.

With Councils being encouraged to follow the government lead it is hoped that sufficient land will quickly be released for building. We will all be able to follow the progress of this review via a map to be released later this year showing all land and buildings currently under public ownership. Some land has already been earmarked for development including land in Bath which is to be freed up following the rationalisation of Ministry of Defence office accommodation, land in Oxfordshire freed following the closure of a hospital and the redevelopment of New Covent Garden Market in Vauxhall.

To help impoverished developers there are a variety of options including a build now pay later scheme which will allow developers to defer payments until properties are sold. It is hoped that the cost of the land will be fixed up front or developers may find themselves facing some interesting price and tax negotiations. Of course, the sale of properties attracts Stamp Duty Land Tax and this scheme, in addition to alleviating the housing shortage and providing employment, will create revenue generating opportunities for the Government.

As tax mitigation specialists Newshams will be following the progress of the release of public land with interest whilst continuing to provide advice on SDLT and other taxes, how tax may affect any private or business transaction and how to put in place an effective mitigation strategy.

Contact us now on 020 7470 8820 and ask to speak to a tax adviser about how we can reduce the tax costs on your property transaction or e-mail us at and we’ll get straight back to you.

8th June 2011

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