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Government to launch 'Right to Contest' to free up public land

The government will launch ‘Right to Contest’ next month, a scheme to allow the public to challenge government and local authorities to release land to support the construction industry.

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander announced the launch, while speaking at a housing conference in London (see box).

Mr Alexander said that independent estimates suggest the public sector holds around 40 per cent of developable sites and around 27 per cent of brownfield land suitable for housing.

The issue has come to the fore in recent weeks with housing developers criticised for alleged landbanking and its effects on house prices.

Mr Alexander’s announcement comes just weeks after Labour pledged to penalise private “landbankers” and get Britain building 200,000 homes per year by 2020.

Right to Contest

Mr Alexander said: “Next month will see the launch of our new Right to Contest scheme.

“Under current law, members of the public have the right to challenge local authorities and government departments to release land that is vacant or underused.

“But Right to Contest will expand this even further, so that if there is any land owned by central government departments that members of the public – or your organisations – think you can make better use of, then you can challenge us to release it, even if it is currently in use.

“If ministers are convinced that the site can be used in a more economically valuable way – for business, for homebuilding – then we will sell that land on the open market.

“And we will use the proceeds from the sale to pay down our debt and to invest in our economy.

“We’re also undertaking a new strategic land review, which will build on this right and invite input from industry and local authorities to help identify where further land can be made surplus or redundant and sold to support construction and local growth.”

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