Communities Secretary Greg Clark MP is urging Whitehall departments and local councils to let go of surplus and redundant land and property to allow new homes to be built.
Clark wants departments to “loosen their grip” on sites that are standing idle so they can be released for new housebuilding, with a clear target to release enough land for 150,000 homes by 2020.
He is also calling on England’s 326 councils to follow the government’s lead and look at the land assets they hold, and use some of those plots, particularly those on brownfield sites, to provide new homes for their communities.
Clark, who is MP for Tunbridge Wells, said: “The scale of our ambition is clear – to release enough surplus and redundant public sector land for 150,000 homes over the next 5 years.
“I want to see departments going further and faster than before, starting right away, to loosen their grip on sites that are standing idle and to turn them over for house building.
“Councils are significant landowners and town halls should be looking at their estate, particularly brownfield sites, and thinking about how they could make better use of their holdings by releasing land for new homes for their communities.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Housebuilding is at an 8-year high, with construction starts up 5% over the last year alone – we must maintain this momentum.
“A key way we’re doing that is by looking again at the land government departments own, with enough land released over the last Parliament for 103,000 homes.
“Over the next 5 years, we’re going to go further and faster – but where Whitehall is leading, town halls should follow, ensuring their land can be put to good use to deliver new homes across the country.”
Government accounts show that in 2011, councils held £223 billion of assets – of which £108 billion was in land and buildings.