The government's Accelerated Construction Scheme ("the Scheme"), initially announced in October 2016, plans to take direct action to deliver 15,000 homes on surplus public sector land. The £1.7bn Scheme aims to avoid using major builders and instead tackle the construction skills gap whilst doubling the speed of traditional development, with potential benefit from higher returns when selling homes than would otherwise be expected from disposing of sites directly to market.
In January 2017 the government published a prospectus enabling all local authorities outside London to express their interest in the Scheme by 28 February 2017 (a separate engagement process for London Authorities is currently in progress). The government wants to help LAs to develop sites which can begin to deliver housing starts in this Parliament, have capacity for 50 homes or more and can respond effectively in meeting local housing need.
In order to express interest in the Scheme, LAs need to include a clear report of surplus land owned or to be acquired by the LA which can be brought forward for housing and the sites that can be prioritised for the Scheme. The support and expertise that will be required to accelerate development of housing on surplus sites should also be included in any expression of interest made together with a demonstration of how likely planning permission is to be granted.
Although the prospectus stipulates that profits will be "shared" with the builder or contractor upon the sale of homes, further clarification is required from the government on profit structure. LAs will also need to consider how, as a planning authority, they can remain impartial where there is a possibility of a share in the overall profits.