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Local authorities working to bring on custom and self build projects on their own land will welcome the news that One Public Estate has opened its latest Land Release Fund for applications. The up to £75 million Brownfield Land Release Fund includes a £25 million allocation specifically for self and custom build, to bring forwards plots on sites on both brownfield and greenfield.

Announced as part of the National Home Building Fund in the 2020 Spending Review by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF) is a capital grant fund designed to facilitate housing delivery, which otherwise would not come to market.

The BLRF is only available for local authorities to use on their own surplus land, to help unlock small sites for housing development.

Typically, this is sites for housing of less than 250 units which have been not come forwards for housing due to market failure or issues with viability. The Land Release Fund aims to bridge this gap, and NaCSBA welcomes the fact that the Self and Custom Build Fund is also available on greenfield sites as well as brownfield, making it more flexible.

English authorities can apply for funding, except for some Mayoral Combined Authority which were previously able to access funding.

The BLR fund aims to:

  • Release local the land by the end of March 2024* for housing development that otherwise would not come forward in this period
  • Encourage the use of public assets to drive innovative delivery, through SME support, bespoke delivery models, high-quality design and modern methods of construction
  • Demonstrate a return for government investment into these small sites
  • Enable schemes to deliver within the funding timescale

*Release of land for self and custom build plots is the point at which disposal of the first plots takes place

The capital funding can be used for a variety of issues that impact viability, such as:

  • Site levelling, groundworks, demolition
  • Provision of small-scale infrastructure
  • Highways works or other access challenges
  • Addressing environmental constraints, and more
  • The self and custom build fund

With regards to self and custom, the Land Release Fund is also seeking to create exemplars to the delivery of serviced plots, with the intention that these can be replicated as a way of driving wider delivery.

The prospectus sets out that applications must demonstrate both a return for government and be deliverable in the fund’s timescale, with the first plots available for housing by end March 2024. The deadline for applications is 2 June. 

The Self and Custom Build Fund could be used for:

  • Site levelling, site preparation, groundworks
  • Provision of small-scale infrastructure
  • Highways works or other access challenges
  • Addressing environmental constraints
  • Providing services to plots, and more.

Local authorities wanting to apply should visit the One Public Estate’s site. 

Mary Elkington, Acting Head of the Right to Build Task Force, said: “It is fantastic that the Brownfield Land Release Fund includes this £25 million allocation for self and custom build, and we encourage as many councils as possible to apply. This will make a genuine difference to those authorities working to deliver a more diverse route to delivering high-quality housing.

“Support for replicable exemplars of this innovative route to housing helps in scaling up custom and self build. These sites will help showcase the wide range of benefits that custom and self build can deliver, complementing wider housing delivery.”

One Public Estate (OPE) is a partnership between the Office of Government Property in the Cabinet Office (OGP), the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

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