Delivering the Budget and Spending Review in the House of Commons, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that the money would be used to bring 1,500 hectares of brownfield land into use.
It is hoped that the funding, which was leaked at the weekend, will result in the production of around 160,000 homes in England. It will be used both for preparing the sites for development, as well as installing the necessary infrastructure, such as transport links and public spaces.
The funding received an underwhelming response from property professionals. Marc von Grundherr, director of estate agent Benham and Reeves, said that such an “insignificant” level of development was “more of a slap in the face than it is an outstretched hand”.
He added: “It simply isn’t enough and with the government consistently failing to meet their previous housebuilding targets, it will be a miracle if we see a brick laid on brownfield land or a meaningful level of affordable homes delivered in our lifetime.”
This was echoed by James Forrester, managing director of Barrows and Forrester, who noted that according to the government’s own data there are around 36,000 hectares of brownfield land in England alone, which could deliver more than 1.3 million new homes.
He continued: “So even if the government does make good on its promise, it’s just a fraction of what they could, and should, be building.”
A further £65m investment was announced to improve the planning system through a digital system which aims to deliver better environmental outcomes, growth and quality of design.