Communities secretary Greg Clark (pictured) urged government departments to “loosen their grip” on sites lying idle, to free up land for 150,000 new homes by 2020.
Over the past five years Whitehall departments have released enough land to build just 103,000 new homes.
The communities secretary chaired the first cabinet housing taskforce with attendees including business secretary Sajid Javid, environment secretary Liz Truss, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin, and chief secretary to the treasury Greg Hands.
Clark also called on England’s 326 councils to use vacant plots on brownfield sites to deliver new homes for their communities.
Clark said: “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. The chance to own your own home should be available to everyone who works hard.”
Commenting on the meeting, Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, pointed to the latest Taxpayers’ Alliance report which highlighted the fact that much of the land currently held by local authorities is occupied by private businesses.
“Whilst business growth is undeniably important for the UK economy, so too is having an adequate amount of land available for housebuilding. If the government’s targets for creating new homes are to be met, it will be vital for local councils to free up more land for this purpose. Freeing up any unused land for housing development will help to address the current imbalance between supply and demand in the UK housing market and therefore enable more people to buy their own homes,” he said.