Homes being built on ex-NHS land too expensive for nurses

The government should stop selling off land, and start building homes that are actually affordable, says think tank. 

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Four out of five of the planned homes on sold NHS land will be unaffordable to nurses, according to research. Analysis of 59 NHS sites by the think tank New Economics Foundation has found that private developers in possession of former government-owned land are planning homes that would sell at 10 times the average salary of a nurse, raising concerns around affordability.

The research concluded that, on average, the sale price would be £315,279, and only one in ten of these homes would be let at affordable rent. On London sites, all planned sales would be out of reach for a nurse, and just one site would contain homes let at affordable rent.

New Economics Foundation has proposed that instead of selling government sites, a “People’s Land Bank” should be established, using excess land to build genuinely affordable properties. The think thank’s housing lead Joe Beswick said that “public land – which is owned by all of us – is being flogged off to developers so that they can make massive profits, while producing a tiny amount of affordable housing.” He claimed that the government was, in fact, worsening the housing crisis with such sales.  

These sites, which were sold under the government’s public land sale programme, form just a small part of a wider push to hand surplus land over to private hands. However, a National Audit Office investigation in June 2015 found a government effort to sell enough land to build 100,000 homes by March 2015, “did not collect information on the amount of money raised or how many homes have actually been built.” The report concluded: “In future land sales, responsibility for monitoring what happens to land after disposal should be made clear.”

This latest research into NHS land shows how developers are even able to avoid affordable housing requirements altogether. According to Beswick, “the Government should stop using national assets to line the pockets of developers, and instead put public land to public use.”

Augusta Riddy is a Special Projects Writer at the New Statesman.