Alderford Parade MSV p.Google Earth Studio snapshot

The study found that there are 320,000 such sites in England and Wales, which have the potential to be redeveloped into 1.6m homes. Credit: Google Earth

Small sites in GM and LCR could provide 100,000 homes 

Councils within the Greater Manchester and Liverpool city regions own a combined 5,000 acres that could be redeveloped into housing, according to research by LDS Sales Guarantees. 

Part of Landmark Group, LDS used data from Land Registry and Nimbus Maps to calculate how many unused small sites – three acres or less – local authorities across the country own. 

The study found that there are 320,000 such sites in England and Wales, which have the potential to be redeveloped into 1.6m homes. 

Combined, these plots account for nearly 100,000 acres – roughly the size of Birmingham and Manchester put together – and could provide homes for 3.8m people, the report states. 

The number of homes that could be accommodated on each plot is calculated using the average residential density of each area. 

Local authorities across the Greater Manchester Combined Authority area own 9,208 unused small sites, equating to 3,057 acres. 

This is enough land to build 62,484 homes, according to LDS. 

Local authorities across the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority area own 8,348 unused small sites, which is 2,189 acres of land. 

This is enough land to build 42,524 homes, the LDS said.

In light of the research, LDS has published a policy paper calling for new rules to help unlock small sites for SME housebuilders, which could in turn go some way to addressing the country’s housing supply and demand imbalance. 

Mark Hawthorn, chief executive of LDS Sales Guarantees, said that accessing suitable land parcels remains a “principal challenge for SME housebuilders”.  

“We understand why councils focus on large plots of land to deliver housing at volume. However, our analysis demonstrates a plethora of small sites owned by local authorities, the majority of which, if identified and disposed of correctly, can breathe new life into the SME housebuilding revival.” 

LDS’ paper proposes that local councils or combined authorities should adopt a model that would allow them to unlock the potential of the unused small sites. 

This would involve the councils identifying suitable sites and holding a “simplified procurement process for SME housebuilders” to acquire them. 

“We need to create a mechanism to unlock these unused small plots of council land for SMEs,” said Chris Carr, managing director of Carr & Carr Builders, and national vice president of the Federation of Master Builders. 

“This data shows councils have large swathes of unused small plots. I would urge council place departments to read this report to see if there is a policy we can build on to unlock thousands of small sites for SME housebuilders.” 

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Interesting point, but presents issue of small sites as more straightforward than it seems. Some LAs have been disposing of these sites for some time often at auction. Others are deliberately holding onto them for when they can fund new affordable homes, or are packaging up several nearby small sites together so it works for a social landlord to come in and develop them (Manchester City Council are already doing this). And some of these small sites, even where they’ve previously had houses or garages on them have become the space where kids play or dogs get walked, so any talk of disposing of them can result in flack from voters.

By Rotringer

100,000 homes on 5,000 acres of land = 20 homes per acre. We should be fitting at least triple this number on each acre if we are truly serious about solving the housing crisis and supporting local economic growth.

By Anonymous

I completely agree with this, I hope all councils are listening!

By Anonymous

Councils already do this.

By Martin Cranmer

So in other words, you want everyone to live in apartments?

By Anon

In GM we would welcome an approach similar to Manchester City Council’s ‘Project 500’ where small sites were offered to Community Led Housing groups. This would mean that the sector is able to scale up and become a more recognised and trusted way to provide housing.

By Rachel Summerscales

this doesnt seem to address the issue of increased cost for small sites, unless there are financial incentives then these developments will remain undeveloped

By Biledujour

Why build any homes in the LCR?

Any doing so would suggest a functioning city. Rather than one in which it is apparently impossible to rent out a small amount of city centre office space.

By Jeff

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