Homes built on sold NHS land 'unaffordable to nurses'

By agency reporter
January 10, 2018

The Government’s sale of NHS land is failing to produce affordable homes and is exacerbating the affordability crisis across the UK, according to new research from the New Economics Foundation.

The research involved a comprehensive analysis of the 59 NHS sites that have been sold so far under the Government’s public land sale programme. It finds that of the planned homes for sale, four out of five will be unaffordable to a nurse on an average salary. And where they could afford the mortgage repayments, a nurse would have to save for an average of 53 years to afford the deposit.

Only one in ten of the homes built on NHS land will be for genuinely affordable social rent. The average expected sale price for the new homes, based on area estimates, is £315,279. This is 10 times the annual salary of a nurse.

The research also shows instances where the developers who make profits from sold public land are sometimes able to avoid affordable housing requirements altogether:

  • In Stoke-on-Trent, Keep Moat is building 201 homes on the former site of Bucknall Hospital, but not a single property will be classed as affordable. Instead, the company is contributing just £209,000 towards affordable housing.
  • In Dorset, Holton Homes are building zero affordable homes on the site of a former residential care home, with no financial contribution towards affordable housing.
  • In West Yorkshire, Persimmon Homes was required to build 30 per cent affordable housing on the site of Pontefract General Infirmary, but after pleading ‘financial inviability’ this was reduced to just six per cent. Persimmon made pre-tax profits of £775 million in 2016.

The New Economics Foundation recommends that instead of the sale of public land to private developers, the Government should establish a People’s Land Bank, using surplus public sites to start building the millions of genuinely affordable homes that the UK needs.

The People’s Land Bank would be a ring-fenced, national stock of publicly-owned land that would be exclusively earmarked for the development of genuinely affordable housing built in direct partnership with communities and in response to community need.

Joe Beswick, Housing Lead at the New Economics Foundation, said, “These local NHS sites are community assets – they should be used to deliver community benefits. 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. The UK is facing an enormous housing crisis, and the Government is making it worse.

“Every day, people are finding it harder and harder to find a decent, affordable place to live. Surplus public land could be used to start to solve this problem. Instead developers are earning record profits and paying CEOs £100m plus bonuses on the back of luxury properties built on NHS land.

“By selling off public land to the highest bidder, the Government is missing a chance to start solving the housing crisis. Surplus public land should be put into a ‘People’s Land Bank’ – a national stock of land that earmarked for genuinely affordable housing. The Government should stop using national assets to line the pockets of developers, and instead put public land to public use.”

Read the report No homes for nurses: How NHS land is being sold off to build unaffordable homes here

* New Economics Foundation http://neweconomics.org/

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