Land News

Government land released for affordable housing, 25th May, 2005

Hundreds of Government owned sites are set to be released to provide affordable housing for first-time buyers.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced that 100 surplus NHS sites will be used for the construction of about 200,000 homes this year and hundreds of other public sector sites have been earmarked for the initiative.

Land being reviewed includes vacant public land next to railway stations in London.

The houses will cost only £60,000 to construct and will sell at between 50 and 75 per cent of the price of homes on the open market.

First-time buyers would be able to save up to £372 a month on monthly payments for a £200,000 house, as the rest of the equity in the property would be split between the Government and the bank or building society.

The Chancellor said: "We are determined to build on the one million more home owners since 1997 to reach two million by 2010."

However, the scheme has come under fire from Prince Charles, who criticised plans to bulldoze Victorian terraces in the north and Midlands, which he believes would cost much less to renovate.

The proposal comes as the Government is also criticised by environment groups for focusing on new homebuilding to the detriment of green belt areas.

On the 50 anniversary of the introduction of green belts, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) claims that the policy is coming under attack "like never before" as a result of Government policies.

"We stand on the brink of massive and unprecedented loss of long-protected green belt land. Unlike today, losses in the past were small in scale and usually not a direct result of Government policy," CPRE chief executive Shaun Spiers said.

"It doesn't have to be this way. With political will, green belt policy can be strengthened, established green belts can be enhanced and new areas of green belt can be created.

"We urge the Government to go beyond fine words about green belts and to pull us back from the brink of their unprecedented destruction. Ministers must provide convincing and positive leadership to guarantee green belt policy even greater success over the next 50 years."

And the Conservatives questioned whether Labour would really deliver more home owners.

Shadow Secretary of State for Local Government Caroline Spelman, said: "We support helping people buy their own home, and welcome any measures which will genuinely boost home ownership. But since 1997, Labour have been responsible for a whole barrage of new stealth taxes on property and cuts to the Right to Buy which have helped kick a whole generation off the housing ladder.

"Rather than renovating 40,000 Victorian terraces in the North, Labour now plan to bulldoze our green spaces in the South. Is it any wonder we are in the midst of a housing crisis when JJohn Prescott is burying the countryside in concrete with one hand and swinging a wrecking ball at existing homes with the other?"

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