Many of the acquisitions were completed just before the financial year-end in the midst of the current pandemic, which the housing agency said demonstrated its aim to support the long-term recovery of the housebuilding sector.
The recently acquired sites include the 37-hectare Panshanger Aerodrome in Welwyn Garden City, which will be one of the region’s largest housing developments with the capacity for 815 homes.
It is expected that 30 per cent of these homes will be affordable. The development will also include a new primary school, a community centre and self-build plots. Homes England will deliver the infrastructure on site before marketing the site to developers.
In Birmingham, the agency has acquired a 2.5-hectare parcel of land in Digbeth from Birmingham City Council.
The Montague Street site is the final acquisition the agency has made of four land parcels in the area and will be one of the largest development sites in Birmingham city centre. It will have the capacity for 1,000 new homes and 25,000 square metres of employment space.
In Bristol, the 10-hectare Brislington Meadows has been acquired from the local authority and private landowners, with the capacity for 300 homes.
Allocated in Bristol’s Local Plan since 2014, the site had been stalled until Homes England purchased it for development. The site is expected to deliver a minimum of 30 per cent affordable housing.
Additionally, the acquisition of 81 hectares of land in Darlington will see the construction of 800 homes as part of the Burtree Garden Village. Representing just under half of the total proposed Garden Village site, Homes England has entered into a collaboration agreement with developer Hellens Group.
Furthermore, just south of Rugby, Warwickshire, the agency has acquired land totalling 65 hectares from Warwickshire County Council, which is expected to deliver over 900 homes.
Addressing the housing shortage
Simon Dudley, interim Homes England chair, said: “I want to reassure the sector that Homes England is very much open for business and investing in a long-term pipeline of development opportunities to support market recovery.
“The need for new housing will remain a priority, so we will continue to do business with partners across the sector to create opportunities for future development and support the government’s housebuilding objectives.”
Stephen Kinsella, chief land and development officer at Homes England, added: “As a master developer, it’s crucial that we continue to create development opportunities and provide a pipeline of sites for housebuilders of all sizes, despite the challenging situation the industry is facing.
“In the long-term we will still have a housing shortage, so by continuing to acquire difficult sites and addressing the barriers which have previously stopped them moving into production, we’re making sure we can deliver on the agency’s mission to accelerate the construction of new homes while addressing the short-term disruption caused by the impact of coronavirus.”