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David Cameron says public land to be sold with pre-approved planning permission

The government has announced a series of measures to speed up the sale of its assets that are no longer needed.

The measures include the sale of public sector land with pre-approved planning permission.

In a keynote speech ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review on 25 November, the prime minister said he wanted to create a “smarter state”.

He said this could be achieved through reform, devolution and efficiency within government.

“Closing down government offices and releasing government land can help build more homes and spread homeownership.

“Across the spectrum, there are opportunities for us to make a difference not just to people’s pockets but to people’s lives.”

He added: “The government will also accelerate the sale of assets that are no longer needed and for the first time public sector land will be sold with planning permission already secured.”

British Property Federation chief executive Melanie Leech said while the release of public sector land was always welcome, it was unlikely that the land in question would have full permission, rather a permission in principle.

She added: “It is important that government does not take a blinkered approach to prioritising this land for residential use, however, as to create vibrant places where people actually want to live and work there needs to be a mix of residential and commercial elements.”

The announcement comes after Construction News revealed changes to the Homes and Communities Agency land disposal strategy.

New recommendations approved by the HCA put pricing at the forefront of its disposal policy in response to concerns that developers were withdrawing or choosing not to bid on its sites.

One of the recommendations will see the introduction of a maximum 30 per cent ‘non-price’ element on tender assessments, ensuring pricing is the primary assessment for potential buyers.

According to the HCA, non-price elements include considerations such as whether the purchaser would be able to build what they intend to build, the likelihood of gaining planning permission, and whether the buyer has an understanding of and the capacity to deal with technical issues around site remediation.

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