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Councils to be given financial incentives to sell land

Thu 27th June 2013, 4:51 pm

The government has indicated it is willing to grant councils greater spending freedoms if they sell off land assets.

HM Treasury: councils encouraged to sell land

In Thursday’s comprehensive spending review, the government said that it would introduce a number of changes to accelerate the release of public sector land for development, which could mean extra funds to invest in services for councils.

The statement said: “To incentivise asset sales and support investment in transforming local services, the government will also consult on allowing local authorities some flexibility to use their receipts from asset sales to pay for the one-off costs of service reforms.”

The statement did not give any further indication of how these freedoms might work.

It did, however, say that local authorities and local enterprise partnerships would be expected to set out land disposal plans as part of city deals and growth deals. There will also be greater incentives for central government departments to sell land.

In a connected move, the CSR said that communities would be given the right to challenge the government to release land where it is potentially surplus or redundant and can be put to better use, with landholders subject to ministerial scrutiny to prove where sites cannot be sold because they are vital to operational purposes.

A strategic land review will also be launched to help identify where further public sector land can be sold to support construction and growth. 

The government will announce further details on these policies in this year’s autumn statement, along with and how the target will be split between the Homes and Communities Agency, the Shareholder Executive and the Government Property Unit. 

Read an in-depth analysis of the spending review by Pinsent Masons partner Alan Aisbett

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