Report
by the Comptroller
and Auditor General
Department for Communities and Local Government
Disposal of public land
for ...
Our vision is to help the nation spend wisely.
Our public audit perspective helps Parliament hold
government to account an...
Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General
Ordered by the House of Commons
to be printed on 22 June 2015
This report ha...
We investigated government’s progress to ‘release
enough public land to build as many as 100,000 new
homes’. It follows on...
The National Audit Office study team
consisted of:
Husni Amirullah, Ee-Ling Then,
Colin Ratcliffe and Simon Reason,
under ...
4  What this investigation is about  Disposal of public land for new homes
What this investigation
is about
This investiga...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Summary 5
Summary
Key findings
What was the target and how was it set?
1 Governmen...
6  Summary  Disposal of public land for new homes
What was performance against the target?
5 Government has disposed of e...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Summary 7
9 DCLG does not collect information on the amount of money raised from
t...
8  Summary  Disposal of public land for new homes
14 In taking forward this new target, DCLG and the HCA should review an...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Background  9
Background
The facts
What was the target
1.1 The programme of dispos...
10  Background  Disposal of public land for new homes
1.6 Departments informed us that they were not consulted adequately...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Managing the programme  11
Managing the programme
The facts
Who was responsible for...
12  Managing the programme  Disposal of public land for new homes
Who oversaw the programme?
Accountability
2.6 DCLG was ...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Managing the programme  13
2.8 In late 2011, the government convened an Expert Adv...
14  Managing the programme  Disposal of public land for new homes
2.13	One of the ways in which it does so is to make paym...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Managing the programme  15
2.18	Notable information that was not collected included...
16  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes
Delivering against target
The facts
3.1 We analysed ...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Delivering against target  17
Figure3
Soldhomesovertime
Estimatedannualhousingcapac...
18  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes
3.4 When we examined the data to determine what was ...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Delivering against target  19
Figure 4
Volume of disposals by department
Department...
20  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes
3.8 The land is distributed across England with a la...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Delivering against target  21
Figure 5 continued
Distribution of sites sold
Sold si...
22  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes
3.9 The programme data does not include information ...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Delivering against target  23
Actions taken to increase capacity
3.11	Government to...
24  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes
3.12	The MoD and Department of Health were the larges...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Developing the land  25
Developing the land
The facts
How many homes have been buil...
26  Developing the land  Disposal of public land for new homes
Direct sales
4.5 Some departments disposed of their land t...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Developing the land  27
Delaying transfer of land
4.9 Another approach adopted is ...
28  Developing the land  Disposal of public land for new homes
Developer issues
Planning permission
4.13	Developers told u...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix One  29
Appendix One
Our investigative approach
Scope
1 Our investigation...
30  Appendix One  Disposal of public land for new homes
f examined key details of a sample of 127 sites in December 2014 ...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  31
Appendix Two
Case studies: The perspective of the
purchasers and d...
32  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes
Case study 1
Swan Housing Association: Blackwall Reach site
Swan H...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  33
Case study 2
Kier Partnership Homes: Manor Kingsway site
Kier Part...
34  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes
Case study 3
Grainger plc: Aldershot Urban Extension site
Grainger...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  35
Case study 4
Cherwell District Council: Graven Hill site
In March ...
36  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes
Case study 5
Canal & River Trust: Icknield Port Loop site
On 23 Ja...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  37
Case study 6
Lend Lease: Glasshouse Gardens site
In 2011, Lend Lea...
38  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes
Case study 7
Persimmon Homes Ltd (Midlands): Princess Marina Hospi...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  39
Case study 8
Canary Wharf Group plc: Wood Wharf site
Canary Wharf ...
40  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes
Case study 9
QDD Athletes Village UK Limited: ODA Olympic Village ...
Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  41
Case study 10
Reliant Building Contractors Limited: Nuneaton site
...
This report has been printed on Evolution
Digital Satin and contains material sourced
from responsibly managed and sustain...
£10.00
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NAO Report Land Disposal
NAO Report Land Disposal
NAO Report Land Disposal
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NAO Report Land Disposal

Published on: Mar 3, 2016
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Transcripts - NAO Report Land Disposal

  • 1. Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General Department for Communities and Local Government Disposal of public land for new homes HC 87  SESSION 2015-16  24 JUNE 2015
  • 2. Our vision is to help the nation spend wisely. Our public audit perspective helps Parliament hold government to account and improve public services. The National Audit Office scrutinises public spending for Parliament and is independent of government. The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), Sir Amyas Morse KCB, is an Officer of the House of Commons and leads the NAO, which employs some 810 people. The C&AG certifies the accounts of all government departments and many other public sector bodies. He has statutory authority to examine and report to Parliament on whether departments and the bodies they fund have used their resources efficiently, effectively, and with economy. Our studies evaluate the value for money of public spending, nationally and locally. Our recommendations and reports on good practice help government improve public services, and our work led to audited savings of £1.15 billion in 2014.
  • 3. Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed on 22 June 2015 This report has been prepared under Section 6 of the National Audit Act 1983 for presentation to the House of Commons in accordance with Section 9 of the Act Sir Amyas Morse KCB Comptroller and Auditor General National Audit Office 18 June 2015 HC 87 | £10.00 Department for Communities and Local Government Disposal of public land for new homes
  • 4. We investigated government’s progress to ‘release enough public land to build as many as 100,000 new homes’. It follows on from areas of interest identified in previous work on Royal Mail; NHS Property Services; and also through engagement with stakeholders who raised concerns surrounding progress against the target. © National Audit Office 2015 The material featured in this document is subject to National Audit Office (NAO) copyright. The material may be copied or reproduced for non-commercial purposes only, namely reproduction for research, private study or for limited internal circulation within an organisation for the purpose of review. Copying for non-commercial purposes is subject to the material being accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement, reproduced accurately, and not being used in a misleading context. To reproduce NAO copyright material for any other use, you must contact copyright@nao.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell us who you are, the organisation you represent (if any) and how and why you wish to use our material. Please include your full contact details: name, address, telephone number and email. Please note that the material featured in this document may not be reproduced for commercial gain without the NAO’s express and direct permission and that the NAO reserves its right to pursue copyright infringement proceedings against individuals or companies who reproduce material for commercial gain without our permission. Links to external websites were valid at the time of publication of this report. The National Audit Office is not responsible for the future validity of the links. 10652 06/15 NAO Investigations We conduct investigations to establish the underlying facts in circumstances where concerns have been raised with us, or in response to intelligence that we have gathered through our wider work.
  • 5. The National Audit Office study team consisted of: Husni Amirullah, Ee-Ling Then, Colin Ratcliffe and Simon Reason, under the direction of Matthew Rees. This report can be found on the National Audit Office website at www.nao.org.uk For further information about the National Audit Office please contact: National Audit Office Press Office 157–197 Buckingham Palace Road Victoria London SW1W 9SP Tel: 020 7798 7400 Enquiries: www.nao.org.uk/contact-us Website: www.nao.org.uk Twitter: @NAOorguk Contents What this investigation is about  4 Summary  5 Background The facts  9 Managing the programme The facts  11 Delivering against target The facts  16 Developing the land The facts  25 Developer issues  28 Appendix One Our investigative approach  29 Appendix Two Case studies: The perspective of the purchasers and developers  31
  • 6. 4  What this investigation is about  Disposal of public land for new homes What this investigation is about This investigation examines government’s progress to ‘release enough public land to build as many as 100,000 new homes’. It follows on from areas of interest identified in previous work on Royal Mail; NHS Property Services; and also through engagement with stakeholders who raised concerns surrounding progress against the target. This investigation seeks to answer the following questions: • What was the target and how was it set? • How was the programme managed? • What was the performance against the target? • What happened to the land after it was sold, and what were the proceeds? Around 1,000 surplus sites have been disposed of and scored against the target, representing some 103,000 potential new homes. In late 2014, we sampled 127 sites in order to validate the government’s progress in meeting the target. We also examined ten sites in more detail to examine: how the disposal occurred and what has happened to the sites since the disposal (Appendix Two). Our methods are set out at Appendix One.
  • 7. Disposal of public land for new homes  Summary 5 Summary Key findings What was the target and how was it set? 1 Government believed that releasing surplus land would promote growth and reduce the deficit while providing homes and jobs. The target set out to “release enough public land to build as many as 100,000 new, much-needed, homes and support as many as 25,000 jobs by 2015”. It defined a disposal as “the point at which a development agreement/building licence with a private sector partner is signed or freehold transfer takes place, whichever is sooner.” 2 We found no supporting documentation or economic evidence behind quantum of the target, or how it was allocated to departments. The targets for individual departments were set on a bilateral basis. However, the Cabinet Public Expenditure Committee (Efficiency and Reform Subcommittee) increased targets during the programme in an attempt to provide a contingency should any large sites not be sold. Departments informed us that they felt they were not adequately consulted when this happened and felt the revised targets were sometimes over-ambitious. How was the programme managed? 3 Departmental progress in disposing of land was slower than expected and government had to take action to increase land sales. The target was critically dependent on a small number of large sites which were identified as surplus late in the period. Government closely monitored progress and took various approaches to increase delivery such as: the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) acquiring sites and preparing them for disposal; and providing financial assistance to departments to help with the cost of preparing sites. 4 We were unable to validate the quality of the programme data. Our sample of 127 sites found, for example, 45 sites (35%) with differences between the number of homes in the HCA’s programme monitoring data and the number of homes in the departmental information provided to us for our sample. In addition, we found incomplete data in 101 sites sample tested and for only 21% of our sample were departments able to provide us with full supporting documentation.
  • 8. 6  Summary  Disposal of public land for new homes What was performance against the target? 5 Government has disposed of enough land with capacity for an estimated 109,590 homes at the end of March 2015. The biggest contributors to the target are: Ministry of Defence (38,778 homes, 35%); HCA (20,930 homes, 19%); and Department of Health (15,185 homes, 14%). In total, the land disposed comprises 942 sites. 6 The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) applied a wide interpretation of the land that could be counted towards the target. For example, the estimated total of 109,590 homes figure included: • 15,740 homes on land that the public sector disposed of before the target was set. • Categorising surplus land as sold when an organisation moved outside the public sector. For example: sites owned by Royal Mail (2,584 homes); and British Waterways (8,199 homes). There was also an inconsistent approach to assessing site housing capacity as each department followed its own methods. However, each department consulted with planning experts to estimate capacity, and HCA offered robust challenge to these estimates. 7 Government recognised that disposal of surplus land, at an accelerated rate, would not necessarily lead to increased home building. It promoted “Build Now, Pay Later” as a means to promote early development by deferring land purchase payments from developers until completed homes were sold.1 Our case studies demonstrate that departments used a range of disposal methods and partnering approaches with developers with the aim of ensuring homes are built and profits are shared. Approaches included: Joint Ventures, licence to build arrangements, and clawback to allow for the land to be transferred back to the original owners should the developer fail to develop the land within a predetermined time (see Appendix Two for case studies). What happened to the land after disposal, and what were the proceeds? 8 Departments do not routinely monitor what happens to a site after disposal so there is no information on how many homes have been built on sold land. The target measured a notional number of expected homes, not actual homes built. When a site is sold, the selling department estimates the number of homes that a site might support. This estimate is used to measure performance against the 100,000 homes target. Our case studies demonstrate that for the larger sites, it may be up to 20 years before all homes are built, which suggests that evidence of actual homes built would take many years to identify. We are, therefore, unable to report the actual number of homes built to date as the information is not collected. 1 The Plan for Growth, HM Treasury and the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, March 2011.
  • 9. Disposal of public land for new homes  Summary 7 9 DCLG does not collect information on the amount of money raised from the sales. DCLG who oversaw the programme, did not require departments to provide data on the proceeds raised from their land disposals. It is unclear if departments obtained market value for the sites sold. Eighty per cent of the 58 sites for which we have data, disposed of the land via auctions, sealed bids, commercial and informal tenders, open market sales and through a pre-qualified panel. However, within the sample, 12 sites were sold via private arrangements. 10 Without data on the number of homes or sales proceeds, DCLG cannot assess the value for money of the programme. This investigation does not try to evaluate the value for money of this programme. There are many aspects to value for money in this case, two of which are sales proceeds, and number of homes built. The lack of data makes it difficult to assess if departments obtained good value from their disposals and more broadly, if government got value for money from the programme as a whole. This is a particular risk given the priority to dispose of land quickly. 11 Accounting Officers have a responsibility to ensure sales of individual sites represent value for money. Managing Public Money states that departments should value assets at market prices and have up to three years to dispose of land, once it is declared surplus. However, there is a potential tension between this disposal time frame and the programme’s objectives to accelerate land disposals. There was no central guidance to clarify how departments should manage these tensions but there were discussions in monitoring committees to address such issues when they arose. Looking forward 12 There will be a new process for land disposals from 2015-16. The Spending Round 2013 included new targets for central government and associated bodies to deliver at least £5 billion of land and property sales between 2015 and 2020. The HCA took on an enhanced land disposal role for government from April 2015 which it describes as “adding value to surplus public sites with development potential and speeding up their sale to help increase housing and economic growth”.2 13 In the Autumn Statement 2014, the government announced an increased ambition for public sector land and committed to releasing enough land for up to 150,000 homes between 2015 and 2020.3 2 Homes & Communities Agency, Land development and disposal plan, July 2014. Available at www.gov.uk/government/ uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/366694/lddp_july_2014_full.pdf 3 HM Treasury, Autumn Statement 2014. Available at: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_ data/file/382327/44695_Accessible.pdf
  • 10. 8  Summary  Disposal of public land for new homes 14 In taking forward this new target, DCLG and the HCA should review and share the lessons it learned from this programme. Specifically, it should consider the following: • DCLG should clarify how it intends to measure progress through sales proceeds or number of potential homes. It should ensure it collects the data to enable it to measure this and establish data validation processes to verify the quality of data. • In setting further targets, the quantum should be based on a robust assessment of what departments can achieve. • To improve consistency, DCLG should provide guidance on how it expects departments to identify and measure housing capacity and set minimum documentary and data requirements. • DCLG and HCA should decide which organisations must take responsibility for monitoring what happens to land after disposal within the period that the target applies. This monitoring should include a record of the sales proceeds, the homes actually built, and any additional revenue generated up to 2020 at least. This information should be collated at the programme level to give a better indication of programme impact on homebuilding and enable an assessment of value for money.
  • 11. Disposal of public land for new homes  Background  9 Background The facts What was the target 1.1 The programme of disposing surplus government land emerged from the Plan for Growth in the March 2011 Budget. Government believed that releasing surplus land for housebuilding would promote growth and reduce the deficit while providing homes and jobs. It stated that 40% of all land that could be developed sat within public sector land banks, and committed to accelerate the release of surplus public sector land to encourage development.4 1.2 On 8 June 2011, the Housing Minister announced that government planned to “release enough public land to build as many as 100,000 new, much-needed, homes and support as many as 25,000 jobs by 2015”. 1.3 The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) holds policy responsibility for the target with government departments responsible for identifying surplus land, estimating the number of potential dwellings, and disposing of it. 1.4 DCLG was unable to provide us with documentation demonstrating the economic evidence behind the 100,000 target, or how it was allocated to each department. We spoke to the five departments with the largest target components (see Figure 1 on page 12). They informed us that there were discussions to estimate informally what could be achieved; however, no detailed assessments were made. How the target was set 1.5 The targets for individual departments were set on a bilateral basis. Departments worked with HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to negotiate their contribution to the target and agree specific sites. These were then included in departmental strategies as the initial baselines. These were reviewed centrally and revised periodically as part of the monitoring process. 4 The Plan for Growth, HM Treasury and the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, March 2011.
  • 12. 10  Background  Disposal of public land for new homes 1.6 Departments informed us that they were not consulted adequately when targets were increased and felt they were over-ambitious, and did not always reflect delivery constraints. For example, the Department for Transport, and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs raised concerns that their baseline figures had been raised unilaterally, and the Department of Health told us that it highlighted concerns about its target, which was heavily reliant on the wider NHS. Similarly, MoD informed us that the Cabinet Public Expenditure Committee (Efficiency and Reform Subcommittee) increased its target and overruled it when it advised that it did not think it could deliver to it. The targets were increased to provide a contingency should there be a delay in the disposal of high capacity sites: government aimed to find an extra 20,000 homes. What the target measures 1.7 In May 2012, the Public Sector Land Working Group (see paragraph 2.9) defined a disposal as “the point at which a development agreement/building licence with a private sector partner is signed or freehold transfer takes place, whichever is sooner”; the HCA communicated this definition to departments. 1.8 The 100,000 target measures a notional number of homes, representing the potential housing capacity of a site. When a site is disposed, the selling department estimates the number of homes that a site could support. This estimate is used to measure performance against the 100,000 homes target. We discuss this further in Part Four.
  • 13. Disposal of public land for new homes  Managing the programme  11 Managing the programme The facts Who was responsible for delivering against the target? 2.1 HM Treasury required the main landholding departments to publish a disposal strategy setting out how and where it planned to release land. Departments were subject to challenge from the Cabinet Public Expenditure Committee, a senior officials group and a technical support group to ensure the strategies were sufficiently robust, viable and provided value for money. 2.2 Between June and October 2011, the HCA, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the Department for Transport, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Defence each published a strategy. These set out total expected surplus land capacity of about 62,000 homes (Figure 1 overleaf). The Ministry of Defence was the largest contributor with almost half the potential number of homes. 2.3 The intention was for the published disposal strategies to be used as the baseline to monitor performance with variations identified on a six-monthly cycle. The strategies were meant to be revised annually to update targets; however, in practice, this did not happen. Instead the Cabinet Public Expenditure Committee reviewed and set targets. 2.4 Later in the year, the Department’s attention shifted to the smaller landholding departments to identify surplus land with housing capacity. This included the Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Department of Energy and Climate Change as well as the potential of other bodies such as Royal Mail and the BBC. 2.5 By May 2012, government had identified capacity for over 100,000 homes: 15,000 homes from the smaller departments, an additional 8,000 from the HCA and around 16,000 homes on land which was sold prior to the start of the programme in 2011. These 16,000 homes were included because the land was expected to be built on during the course of the programme. This measurement approach is inconsistent with the land sold during the programme, which will have homes built upon it after the programme closed in March 2015 (see paragraph 3.4 for details).
  • 14. 12  Managing the programme  Disposal of public land for new homes Who oversaw the programme? Accountability 2.6 DCLG was the policy lead for the target. Sir Bob Kerslake was the senior responsible owner, who led programme meetings with all major landholding departments. The HCA collated and reported data to monitoring boards, which we consider an administrative function. 2.7 The programme was subjected to the scrutiny of the Cabinet Public Expenditure Committee (Efficiency and Reform Subcommittee); which held departments to account and ensured that strategies were ambitious, but deliverable. Each of the departments had a minister accountable for its performance. The Committee received reports every six months on progress against departmental targets as well as annual disposal targets. The Growth and Enterprise Committee, and Growth and Investment Committees chaired by the Prime Minister and Chancellor respectively also received reports on progress (see paragraph 2.20). Figure 1 Initial expected surplus land for the main landholding bodies Lead public body Subsidiary public body Number of surplus sites identified Potential number of homes Highways Authority 5 145 Department for Transport British Rail Body (Residuary) Ltd’s land 38 2,583 5,351 London & Continental Railways N/A 2,623 Homes and Communities Agency 52 5,972 Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Bodies other than British Waterways 10 2,603 10,003 British Waterways (disposal before conversion to charity status) N/A 1,381 British Waterways (disposal after conversion to charity status) N/A 6,019 Department of Health NHS Bodies 173 9,561 10,454 Retained estate 9 893 Ministry of Defence 21 30,393 Estimated number of homes accommodated on surplus land identified by October 2011 62,173 Source: Departmental land disposal strategies
  • 15. Disposal of public land for new homes  Managing the programme  13 2.8 In late 2011, the government convened an Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Tony Pidgley, the founder of Berkeley Group Holdings, to provide advice to departments intended to unlock disposal of key sites. The Group reported in 2012. Also in 2012, the Cabinet Office’s Implementation Unit reviewed the programme to provide assurance on programme delivery. Managing and monitoring 2.9 A cross-government Land Disposals Group oversaw the programme.5 The group focused on the disposal of the top 20 sites on which target delivery was heavily dependent. It met bi-monthly to monitor progress against departmental land release strategies; DCLG chaired. It was supported by a Public Sector Land Working Group. 2.10 In September 2013, the cross-government Surplus Public Land Programme Board which Sir Bob Kerslake chaired replaced the Land Disposals Group. The new board set a strategic direction on the management and disposal of land and property, and was responsible for monitoring the land disposals programme. The working group was replaced with an expanded delivery group which focused on the last year of the programme. It monitored progress, key issues and risks on a monthly basis. 2.11 The HCA’s administration role in the land disposal programme, involved collating departmental returns, providing a degree of challenge to those departments, and providing expert advice and monitoring reports to the Programme Board and Disposals Group. HCA was not responsible for managing the programme or decision-making. Early in the programme, the HCA was involved in producing a definition of land disposal related terms to provide a consistent approach across the programme. However, beyond these definitions, it provided limited written central guidance to departments instead relying on bilateral, and group discussions. 2.12 From April 2015, after the land disposals programme closed, the HCA took on an enhanced land disposal role for government which it describes as “adding value to surplus public sites with development potential and speeding up their sale to help increase housing and economic growth”. In its wider role, it is responsible for: • increasing the number of new homes that are built, including affordable homes and homes for market sale or rent; • improving existing affordable homes and bringing empty homes back into use as affordable housing; • increasing the supply of public land and speeding up the rate that it can be built upon; • regulating social housing providers; and • helping to stimulate local economic growth by using its land and investment, and attracting private sector investment in local areas. 5 It included representatives from the Department for Communities and Local Government, Homes and Communities Agency’s, the four departments with major land holdings (Ministry of Defence, Department of Health, Department for Transport, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs), the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, Department of Energy & Climate Change, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, HM Treasury, No.10 and the Government’s Property Unit.
  • 16. 14  Managing the programme  Disposal of public land for new homes 2.13 One of the ways in which it does so is to make payments to local authorities, developers, and individual homeowners, including various types of loans and investments.6 2.14 Managing Public Money outlines protocols for disposals for accounting officers, who are responsible for the value for money of their department’s activities. This protocol (Figure 2) includes the requirement that property should be disposed of within three years of being identified as surplus. However, there was a potential tension between this disposal time frame and the programme’s objectives to accelerate disposal of land, which had a target with a specific end date. There was no central guidance to clarify how departments should manage these tensions but there were discussions in monitoring committees to address such issues when they arose. Management information and reporting 2.15 The HCA collated information on disposals and transfers centrally to track delivery of the policy. It relied upon the public landowners to provide updates on landholdings and transactions on a quarterly basis with figures on actual and forecast disposals. It developed a spreadsheet to record and monitor progress rather than use pre-existing systems, which HCA felt were not capable of recording the information it required. 2.16 The main performance metric was ‘land released with the capacity to deliver’. The total housing capacity of a site or phase is counted in the year when the site is sold irrespective of conditions in the contract. It does not relate to when the building of homes is actually started or completed. 2.17 There is no consistent approach to calculating the number of homes that will occupy a site although the HCA conducts a ‘sense check’ of the incoming data and provides challenge to departments on what they could count towards the target as potential homes. 6 National Audit Office, Departmental overview, The performance of the Department for Communities and Local Government 2013-14, Part Four, October 2014. Available at www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ Departmental-overview-communities-and-local-government.pdf Figure 2 Protocol for disposal of land, property and other assets Extract from Annex 4.15, Asset management: • Value assets at market prices using Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ Red Book (www.rics.org). • Dispose of surplus land property within three years. • Dispose of surplus residential property within six months. Extract from civil service property disposals guidance: Surplus assets need to be disposed of as expeditiously as possible – within six months of being declared surplus for housing and within three years for all other properties, while achieving overall value for money for the taxpayer. The disposal process must be clearly documented and managed properly, and there should be a clear audit trail. Source: Managing Public Money, Box A4.15D, and civil service, guidance on property disposals. Available at: www.civilservice.gov.uk/networks/gpp/property-asset-management-in-government/estate-rationalisation/property-disposals
  • 17. Disposal of public land for new homes  Managing the programme  15 2.18 Notable information that was not collected included: • the value of the disposed land recorded in the departmental accounts; • sale proceeds; • the means by which the site was sold; • copies of the contracts; and • the number of homes built on land sold. 2.19 The HCA analysed the disposal information confirming any variations against the disposal strategy: year of disposal; size of the site and proposed number of housing units. The process also captures other information on how the site was disposed of including Build Now Pay Later terms, the planning status at time of disposal, and any other issues which might impact upon the subsequent delivery of homes.7 2.20 The HCA used the information to produce: • A six-monthly performance report for the Board. This moved to quarterly in 2014. • Quarterly reports to the Public Expenditure Committee and its Efficiency and Reform subcommittee.8,9 • Ad-hoc reports to the Growth and Enterprise Committee, and Growth and Investment Committees chaired by the Prime Minister and Chancellor respectively. Quality of information 2.21 We sought to validate the information held in the monitoring spreadsheet. As the population is too large to conduct a full review of all transactions, we selected a representative sample of 127 sites. We requested supporting documentation from the landowning department. However, for only 21% of our sample were departments able to supply full supporting documents.10,11 We also found differences between the number of potential homes in the sample and the programme data. Specifically, of the 127 sampled sites, we found 45 sites (35%) with differences between the number of homes in the HCA’s programme monitoring data and the number of homes in the departmental information provided to us for our sample. Our concerns around the quality of the data echo the findings of the Growth Implementation Committee’s data validation exercise carried out in early 2013 which found that departments did not report accurately against the agreed baselines. 7 A means to promote early development by deferring land purchase payments from developers until completed homes were sold. 8 Chaired by the Chancellor. 9 Chaired by Cabinet Office Minister with Chief Secretary of the Treasury also monitoring. 10 Data validated at 26 February 2015. 11 A sample site is categorised as having ‘full supporting documentation’ when the department is able to provide at the very least the sales contract, business plan, relevant planning documents and documentation to support numbers of potential housing for the site.
  • 18. 16  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes Delivering against target The facts 3.1 We analysed the HCA’s programme information. The following sections describe the volume, distribution, density and mode of disposals across the 942 sites sold or planned for sale. These findings should be considered in light of the concerns we raised in paragraph 2.21 about the quality of the data. Performance against target Current status 3.2 Government has met its target, disposing of enough land to support 109,590 homes by the end of 2014-15; note, however, our comments in paragraph 3.4 about how this target was scored. Note also that the performance relates to housing capacity not actual homes built as many of the projects have yet to start, or are in progress, and will take many years to complete. Information on sales proceeds is not collated centrally. 3.3 The target was critically dependent on the sale of a small number of large sites which came late in the period (Figure 3).
  • 19. Disposal of public land for new homes  Delivering against target  17 Figure3 Soldhomesovertime Estimatedannualhousingcapacitygenerated Thisfigureshowsthat:therateatwhichtheprogrammedeliveredestimatednewhomesimprovedyearonyearfrom2011;andthatthetotal includesanestimated16,000homesbeingbuiltonlandthatwassoldbeforetheprogrammestartedinMarch2011 Source:2014-15Quarter4dataprovidedbyDepartmentforCommunitiesandLocalGovernment 1997-98 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000 0 Estimatedannualhousingcapacitygenerated(LHS) Cumulativetotalofestimatedhousingcapacitygenerated(RHS) Cumulativetotalofestimatedhousingcapacitygenerated 110,000 100,000 90,000 80,000 70,000 60,000 50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 32,293 1998-99 1999-00 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 29,994 20,684 10,879 2,4681,6922,4112,170 5157601,011622992811748 72300 1,167 109,590 15,740 Periodbeforetheprogrammelaunched
  • 20. 18  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes 3.4 When we examined the data to determine what was being included in the target, we found that: • Land sold before the start of the programme is scoring toward the 100,000 target – with 15,740 homes on land that the public sector had sold prior to programme launch in 2011 being counted because it was expected to be built on during the course of the programme. This is inconsistent with the scoring of land sold during the course of the programme, where homes will be built after the programme closed in March 2015 (see Appendix Two, where nine of our ten case studies demonstrate that the building of homes will continue long after the programme ended). • When an organisation moves outside the public sector, its surplus land was categorised as sold when it was transferred even if the sites were not developed. For example: • Royal Mail sites with capacity for 2,584 homes were counted as sold when Royal Mail was privatised in 2013. • Sites owned by British Waterways were scored against the target when the public body converted to a charitable trust in 2012, accounting for 8,199 units. • There is no consistent approach to assess the capacity of sites (the number of homes that could be built). Each department consulted with experts to identify capacity and HCA offered robust challenge. 3.5 Figure 4 gives a breakdown by department. Note that data on the physical size of each site was only available for 508 of the 942 sites so we have some concerns with its accuracy. 3.6 As at 31 March 2015, government has sold a total of 942 sites, ranging in size. The smallest site has a single home; the largest is expected to have 7,600. Most sites (21%) are relatively small at less than 5 hectares.12 There are a small number of sites representing a disproportionately large number of homes (eight sites of more than 2,000 homes). These are long-term, multi-phase projects, some which will not complete for 20 years. 3.7 For the 58 sites for which we had data, most disposed of the property via auctions, sealed bids, commercial and informal tenders, open market sales and through a pre‑qualified panel. Within the sample, 12 sites were sold via private arrangements. 12 Note that there was only data on the size of the site for 508 of the 942 sites.
  • 21. Disposal of public land for new homes  Delivering against target  19 Figure 4 Volume of disposals by department Department Number of sites Size of site1 (hectares) Number of homes Ministry of Defence 153 1,888 38,778 Homes & Communities Agency 133 663 20,930 Department of Health 427 1,517 15,185 Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs 65 132 11,675 London Legacy Development Corporation 3 600 7,221 Department for Transport 69 57 4,655 Public Corporations 27 48 4,113 Greater London Authority 10 2 2,652 Ministry of Justice 40 5 1,814 Others 7 25 1,102 Olympic Park Legacy Company 1 0 600 Thurrock Local Authority2 3 0 489 HM Treasury 1 0 200 Home Office 2 0 126 Department for Culture, Media & Sport 1 0 50 Total 942 4,937 109,590 Notes 1 Incomplete data. 2 This land was owned by a government-owned urban development corporation at the start of the programme and subsequently transferred to Thurrock Local Authority. Source: Homes and Communities programme close data (at 31 March 2015)
  • 22. 20  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes 3.8 The land is distributed across England with a large amount clustering around developed town centres and key growth areas (Figure 5). Figure 5 Distribution of sites sold Sold sites, and the number of potential homes – England 1,000 to 10,000 homes (15 sites) 500 to 1,000 homes (18 sites) 200 to 500 homes (103 sites) 100 to 200 homes (117 sites) 0 to 100 homes (689 sites)
  • 23. Disposal of public land for new homes  Delivering against target  21 Figure 5 continued Distribution of sites sold Sold sites, and the number of potential homes – Greater London Note 1 The size of individual circles represent the number of potential homes for each site. The larger the circle, the greater the number of potential homes. Source: 2014-15 Quarter 4 data provided by DCLG 1,000 to 10,000 homes 500 to 1,000 homes 200 to 500 homes 100 to 200 homes 0 to 100 homes
  • 24. 22  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes 3.9 The programme data does not include information on the type of purchaser. However, based on our sample of 127 sites, we found that of the 61 sites identified as sold, 37 were sold to private developers, 11 to individuals, 3 to local authorities and 10 were unknown. Progress over time 3.10 From the start of the programme, disposals were slower than forecast. Ministers were concerned that the disposals would not meet the 100,000 homes target. The Cabinet Office’s Implementation Unit conducted a review in October 2012 on barriers to achieving the target. It considered that there was little headroom if sales were delayed and there were limited options to identify more land. Figure 6 summarises its findings on why sites were at risk. Figure 6 Implementation Unit review of barriers to achieving the target Summary of report findings Sites: • Meeting the target was reliant on selling over 20 sites, each with capacity for over 1,000 homes. Due to their size, these sites tended to be challenging to dispose of quickly. Incentives and accountability: • Departments were unwilling to accept lower valuations for their sites than those included in their 2010 spending settlements. Budgetary impacts also reduced willingness to offer Build Now, Pay Later incentives. • Most departments believed a site with outline planning permission was potentially worth more so they were investing time and effort in the process despite uncertainties as to how long it could take. • Departments did not have collective responsibility for the target, focusing on their own objectives and land. This made it difficult to take a programme approach, through for example full access to information, packaging up sites falling in the same local area and being able to move resources and/or sites around. Departmental capacity: • Limited departmental capability, lacking the necessary expertise and resources to focus on the activity. Disposal of surplus land for housing was not a core or priority activity. • Different approaches prior to tendering, planning, local stakeholder consultation and private sector engagement dependent upon experience and capacity and had a direct impact on the pace of delivery. Source: How can Government overcome barriers to disposing of land for 100,000 homes by March 2015? Cabinet Office and Department for Communities & Local Government, October 2012
  • 25. Disposal of public land for new homes  Delivering against target  23 Actions taken to increase capacity 3.11 Government took various steps to increase land sales (Figure 7). Figure 7 Actions taken to meet the target Approach Actions Timing Find more surplus land Plan to identify additional 20,000 surplus land capacity to accommodate delays beyond the deadline. From start HCA reviewed capacity on surplus land held by other departments and arm’s-length bodies/corporations with smaller landholdings. Early 2012 Departments were asked to bring forward sites planned for disposal in 2015-16. Mid 2012 Departments were asked to find more land it could sell and speed up disposals that were stalling. Throughout 2012-13 Transfer land to HCA In November 2012, departments agreed a process to acquire land for HCA. By February 2013, HCA had agreed terms and the process for acquiring 32 sites from other departments and public bodies. However, in June 2013, the Treasury expressed concern that the transfers were taking too long. If there was no change, the Chancellor was considering transferring the land to the HCA without passing receipts to the departments. By July, the DCLG reported progress with the transfers, with six acquisitions completed and 23 nearing completion. Throughout 2012-13 Increase attention/ support The Prime Minister commissioned the Cabinet Office Implementation Unit to review barriers, the effectiveness of departmental disposal strategies, and recommend proposals to improve delivery. Mid 2012 Ministerial attention and engagement to meet the target increased. It became an agenda item for the Prime Minister’s Growth Implementation Committee. January 2013 MoD and Department of Health were given more attention as they were two of the largest landholding departments and were falling behind. Structured reporting requirements moved to a quarterly basis. From May 2013 Address ‘barriers’ £190 million investment fund which departments could use for site remediation and works such as access roads and services. From late 2012 £100 million for HCA to purchase land from NHS trusts and other departments with smaller landholdings Providing a single portal to provide information on surplus land and expanding engagement with planning departments in local authorities. January 2013 Source: Review of Department for Communities and Local Government’s files
  • 26. 24  Delivering against target  Disposal of public land for new homes 3.12 The MoD and Department of Health were the largest contributors to the target, together accounting for 49% of the planned housing capacity. Both faced challenges in disposing of their land and had to find ways to overcome them. Figure 8 and Figure 9 illustrate the types of issues that each faced. Figure 8 Disposing of MoD sites Partnering with private developers The Ministry of Defence initially planned to dispose of 21 surplus sites, with capacity for 30,400 homes. Its portfolio of land was different to other departments in that they were large sites in relatively rural locations, where former barracks and airfields were located. However, it was noted that some of these sites had the potential to deliver significant residential developments. After the Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Ministry removed a number of sites from the programme because they were no longer considered surplus. While this change resulted in a loss of 2,630 homes, it was mitigated by additional sites and an increase in capacity on others. The Ministry adopted a flexible approach to disposals to fit in with changing strategic priorities. For example, for the sale of its 187 hectare site in Graven Hill, Bicester, Cherwell District Council bought the freehold of the site, but leased it back to the Ministry while it made arrangements to relocate its activities to other sites. MoD will vacate the Graven Hill site in two phases. It will hand over part of the site in September 2015 and is scheduled to hand over the remainder in 2019 (see Case study 4 in Appendix Two). The Cabinet Office Implementation Unit acknowledged the Ministry’s success in using private sector development partners on major sites. The partners tackled the planning process, invested in enabling infrastructure and had a commercial interest to ensure that the final planning permission was deliverable. Source: National Audit Office summary of documents Figure 9 Disposing of NHS sites Encouraging NHS trusts to dispose of their land In its initial disposal strategy, the Department of Health identified 10,454 potential homes across 182 surplus sites. Of these, 173 were owned by NHS bodies over which the Department had limited control. Individual NHS trusts have direct responsibility and accountability for management of their assets. The Department of Health took on responsibility for monitoring NHS disposals. The Department created NHS Property Services Ltd to manage the majority of former primary care trusts and strategic health authorities’ estates, including rationalising and selling surplus property. NHS Trusts remained responsible for disposals of their land. Progress was slow and DCLG considered that the performance of NHS Trusts was poor. Without improvement, there was a risk of not meeting the overall target. While the Department of Health had written to all NHS Trusts informing them of the funding available to support their disposals, few had expressed interest. Many of the Trusts wanted to retain land because they considered that it would increase in value over the next four years. Progress improved markedly in early 2014, following the appointment of a dedicated programme lead and more intensive senior level engagement between the Department and NHS. The Treasury and the Department of Health agreed to investigate improved revenue incentive schemes for NHS Trusts. Also the HCA worked with the Department of Health to deepen engagement with NHS Trusts including running workshops to highlight the support for land disposals. By June 2013, the DCLG had received about 50 expressions of interest from NHS Trusts in the investment and acquisition funds. The Department of Health’s Land Fund went live Christmas 2013. This fund existed to cover costs not included in the scope of the HCA’s Investment Fund. The Department of Health told us its fund supported the disposal of land across ten sites representing over 2,000 homes. Source: National Audit Office summary of documents
  • 27. Disposal of public land for new homes  Developing the land  25 Developing the land The facts How many homes have been built and how much money generated? 4.1 Departments do not routinely track what happens to a site after disposal. There has been no recording of development activity or housing starts and completions. The HCA is not able to establish starts or completions as the programme did not require departments to provide this information to the HCA. Therefore we are not able to say how many homes have been built on the land. Evidence of actual homes built would take many years to identify: for larger sites, it may be up to 20 years before all homes are built. 4.2 We are similarly unable to report the sales proceeds raised from the disposals, as the programme did not require departments to provide this information. Since 2011, there has been no central recording of funds raised from disposals. It is unclear if departments obtained market value for the sites sold. 4.3 We examined ten large sites in more detail to get a better picture of what happens to the land after sale. Where available, we provide information on the homes built and proceeds. The case studies are listed in full in Appendix Two. What happens to the land after sale? 4.4 Based on DCLG data, departments adopted a range of approaches to structure disposals to promote early development. We did not assess the individual benefits or risks of the approaches but provide case studies to illustrate what has been used. Departments used one or more of the following approaches: • Direct sale of land; • Sale and leaseback; • Clawback provisions; • Profit sharing through overage provisions; • Delaying transfer of land via licensing; • Partnering for site preparation; and • Joint-venture arrangements.
  • 28. 26  Developing the land  Disposal of public land for new homes Direct sales 4.5 Some departments disposed of their land through a straight forward sale, transferring the freehold to the purchaser for development. For example, Persimmon Homes Ltd acquired the freehold for a site at the former Princess Marina Hospital for redevelopment (Case study 7). Sale and leaseback 4.6 Some departments took the sale and leaseback approach, which involves the disposal of the surplus land to the developer or purchaser before it is being leased back to the department so it could be used in the interim. For example, Cherwell District Council bought the freehold of the site from the Ministry of Defence, but has leased the site back to the Ministry of Defence while the department makes arrangements to relocate its activities to other sites (Case study 4). Clawback 4.7 Some departments have used clawback provisions within sale contracts that allow for the land to be transferred back to the original owners should the developer fail to develop the land within a predetermined time. It is not clear if departments are actively monitoring such arrangements. Within our case studies, we have not seen an example of a clawback provision being activated to date. Due to the length of the projects, it may be some years before the provisions expire. There is a potential risk that the target overstates what has been achieved. Profit sharing through overage 4.8 Some departments included overage provisions which typically outline a profit sharing arrangement between the original landowner and the developer. In the case of a site at Blackwall Reach, the parties established a base average value per square foot at the outset of the project. Where the average selling price achieved is greater than this base cost, Swan Housing Association (Swan) and the Greater London Authority/Tower Hamlets split the difference 40/60 (Case study 1).
  • 29. Disposal of public land for new homes  Developing the land  27 Delaying transfer of land 4.9 Another approach adopted is to place conditions on the transfer of the land title. This could be based on construction milestones as illustrated by the development at Blackwall Reach, where Swan Housing Association has a licence to build on the site but it cannot take ownership until buildings for each phase are ‘wind and watertight’ (Case study 1). 4.10 Departments have also structured disposals such that the developers do not hold the land title. The ownership of the land remains with the original landowner and is only transferred to the homeowner when homes are sold. In the case of the Aldershot Urban Extension, the developer Grainger plc obtained licence to build on the site but the Ministry of Defence retains ownership until it is sold to homeowners (Case study 3). Partnering for site preparation 4.11 The site of the Aldershot Urban Extension also highlights an example of a partnering arrangement. Under the arrangement, Grainger, at its own risk, funds the cost of obtaining planning consents and preparing each site for sale to housebuilders. It then receives the costs incurred to date when the land is sold in addition to an accrued annual management fee and a small proportion of the gain in the value of the land. The rest passes to the Ministry of Defence (Case study 3). Joint ventures 4.12 Similarly, some departments have also structured disposals in the form of joint‑venture arrangements with developers. For example, the Glasshouse Gardens site is being developed through a joint-venture vehicle between London Continental Railways and Lend Lease. As the development progresses, London Continental Railways will contribute the land required for the phase into the joint-venture vehicle, while Lend Lease will inject an agreed portion of equity. As the joint-venture is equally owned by both parties, profits will be shared equally (Case study 6).
  • 30. 28  Developing the land  Disposal of public land for new homes Developer issues Planning permission 4.13 Developers told us that some departments performed de-risking activities prior to selling the land, with the intention of increasing the site’s appeal. De-risking activities include obtaining planning consent, to conducting environmental surveys, site clearance and decontamination. 4.14 The developers believed that extensive de-risking work is best left to experienced developers: • Kier Partnership Homes stated that de-risking work such as demolition work undertaken by landowners does not necessarily increase the attractiveness of the development. Such work should be left to the developer as the work would provide the developer with first hand understanding of the risks associated with the existing foundation (Case study 2). • Similarly, Grainger plc stated that governmental bodies feel a need to obtain planning consent before marketing a site in the belief that it speeds up the process and adds value. However, in its view, in reality, much of the work done is either nugatory or of low quality and thus must be repeated (Case study 3). Land ownership 4.15 The case studies also highlight that due to timing constraints on the delivery of the scheme, some departments felt the need to expedite the tendering process, which can cause issues surrounding land title and ownerships. This has led to delays in the construction phase of some projects: • In the case of the site at Blackwall Reach, Swan Housing Association noted that although GLA and Tower Hamlets have taken steps to acquire the relevant titles prior to tendering the development, there is a title issue yet to be resolved at the time of our interview over land that will be needed in the final phase (Case study 1). • Similarly, the site at Manor Kingsway is owned by several governmental bodies. During the procurement process, HCA has indicated that there was an agreement between all the landowners committing them to support the development. However, the developer later discovered that as this was only a memorandum of understanding. It has since encountered difficulties in negotiating with landowners (Case study 2).
  • 31. Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix One  29 Appendix One Our investigative approach Scope 1 Our investigation examined the government’s progress to “release enough public land to build as many as 100,000 new homes”. The investigation sought to answer the following questions: • What was the target and how was it set? • Who delivers against the target? • Who manages the programme? • What is the progress against the target? • What happened to the land after it was sold? Methods 2 In examining these issues, we drew on a variety of evidence sources. We: a reviewed policy papers and reports by DCLG; b reviewed the land disposal strategies of all the departments involved in the programme; c reviewed minutes prepared by the Cross Government Land Disposals Group and the Public Sector Land Working Group; d reviewed submissions made to the Cabinet Public Expenditure Committee (Efficiency and Reform Subcommittee); e examined the data set provided by DCLG on all 942 sites;
  • 32. 30  Appendix One  Disposal of public land for new homes f examined key details of a sample of 127 sites in December 2014 including: • department disposing of land; • date of sale; • sale contract; • location; • housing numbers per site; • proceeds; • overage or clawback arrangements; • type of disposal; • method of disposal; • name of purchaser/developer; • planning status; • de-risking activities conducted; • business Case documents; and • e-PIMS and Land Registry numbers. g compared these key details to requested supporting documentations; h interviewed six developers to gain a better understanding of the scheme from the purchaser perspective for our case studies; and i received written responses from a further three developers to a questionnaire similar to the interviews conducted.
  • 33. Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  31 Appendix Two Case studies: The perspective of the purchasers and developers 1 The following case studies summarise the status of ten projects. The information presented is based on our interviews with purchasers and developers as well as written responses received from questionnaires.
  • 34. 32  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes Case study 1 Swan Housing Association: Blackwall Reach site Swan Housing Association (Swan) entered into a three party development partnership agreement with Greater London Authority (GLA) and London Borough of Tower Hamlets (Tower Hamlets) in April 2011. Key facts Governmental department Greater London Authority and London Borough of Tower Hamlets Location Blackwall, London Number of homes 1,575, of which approximately 50% will be affordable housing Volume of land 7.7 hectares Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale Information not provided due to commercial confidentiality Provision of sales contract No Mode of disposal Commercial tender Proceeds from disposal Information not provided due to commercial confidentiality Overage/Clawback 40/60 overage (developer/landowner respectively). No clawback Type of disposal Developer obtained licence to build on the site. Ownership is transferred when building is ‘wind and watertight’ Status Construction has begun. All four phases to be completed by 2024 Observations Swan was attracted to the project as the developer did not have to make an up-front payment to acquire its interest. Instead, Swan has a licence to build on the site but it will not take ownership until buildings for each phase are ‘wind and watertight’. Swan expects to spend approximately 75% of its investment before it receives title over the land. This arrangement is intended to discourage the practice of ‘land-banking’. However, Swan found the development difficult to finance as it could not use the land as collateral. It would have preferred a ‘no build clawback’ provision where the land is transferred back to the original landowner should the developer fail to develop the site within a predetermined timeline. The agreement has a provision for ‘overage’ where at the outset of the project, a base average value per square foot was established. Where the average selling price achieved is greater than this base cost, Swan and the GLA/Tower Hamlets split the difference 40/60. There is an option for Swan to revisit the base value at the start of each phase, but if it chooses to invoke this option the overage split moves to 30/70. Prior to the tendering process, the GLA and Tower Hamlets took steps to acquire the relevant titles from the various title-holders. However, currently, there is an unresolved title issue over land needed for the final phase. The acquisition of these titles is crucial to the commercial success of the phase. The land is under a compulsory purchase order and the current owner has lodged an appeal against the order. Source: Interview held with Executive Director of Swan Housing Association
  • 35. Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  33 Case study 2 Kier Partnership Homes: Manor Kingsway site Kier Partnership Homes entered into a development partnership agreement with the HCA in late 2011. Key facts Governmental department Homes and Communities Agency Location Manor Kingsway, Derby Number of homes 700 Volume of land 27.5 hectares Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale 27 February 2012 Provision of sales contract Yes Mode of disposal Commercial tender Proceeds from disposal Anticipated to be £8 million Overage/Clawback 50/50 overage (developer/landowner respectively). No clawback Type of disposal Developer obtained licence to build on the site. Ownership is retained by the landowners until it is sold to homeowner Status Construction has begun. All eight phases to be completed by 2021 Observations The land is owned by several governmental bodies. During the procurement process, HCA indicated that there was an agreement between all the landowners committing them to support the development. However, Kier Partnership Homes later discovered that this is no more than a memorandum of understanding and noted that some of the landowners seemed to be reluctant participants, leading to some difficulties in the negotiation process, which significantly delayed the development. Kier Partnership Homes recommended that the agreement could be better drawn up to align the interest of all the third party landowners. Additionally, there should be a single public body empowered to represent all the public sector landowners. The contract includes an overage provision which sets a base average value per square foot. Where the average selling price achieved is greater than this base cost, Kier Partnership Homes and the HCA will split the difference 50/50. Source: Interview held with Managing Director of Kier Partnership Homes
  • 36. 34  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes Case study 3 Grainger plc: Aldershot Urban Extension site Grainger plc (Grainger) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) entered into a development partnership agreement on 2 March 2011. Key facts Governmental department Ministry of Defence via Defence Infrastructure Organisation Location Wellesley, Aldershot Number of homes Revised from 4,500 to 3,850 Volume of land 150 Hectares Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale 2 March 2011 Provision of sales contract Yes Mode of disposal Commercial tender Proceeds from disposal Not applicable as the site is being developed through a Development Partner Agreement. Proceeds are received when plots are sold. Overage/Clawback 40/60 overage (developer/landowner respectively). No clawback Type of disposal Developer obtained licence to build on the site. Ownership is retained by the MoD until it is sold to homeowner Status Construction has begun. All 21 phases to be completed over 20 years Observations Under the agreement, Grainger, at its own risk, funds the cost of obtaining planning consents and the cost of preparing each site for sale to housebuilders. It will produce a master plan and will build all infrastructure such as roads, drainage, foundations and footpaths. Each site is therefore a serviced site ready for the housebuilder. In Grainger’s view this business model removes risk from the housebuilders and gives them certainty on construction timeline and frees-up capital. Consequently, housebuilders tend to pay a premium for these types of sites. Grainger stated that governmental bodies feel under pressure to obtain planning consent before marketing a site in the belief that it speeds up the process and adds value. In reality, much of the work done is either nugatory or of low quality and thus must be repeated. The partnering arrangement alleviates that as planning and de-risking work are left to experienced developers. Grainger told us that due to the site’s size, the arrangement is likely to maximise the value of the site. If sold as one large plot, the purchaser would demand a discount to reflect the risks involved. The arrangement allows the site to be parcelled up and sold in manageable plots. Moreover, there is more demand for smaller plots, thus leading to increased competition. A further benefit to the landowner/MoD is that it captures the upside from house price inflation as each plot is sold off over a longer time frame. When the first plot was sold the MoD gave Grainger the cost of its planning work incurred up to that point in time, the cost of preparing the plot for sale and its accrued annual management fee. To keep incentives aligned, Grainger also receives a small proportion of the gain in the value of the land. The rest passes to the MoD. Source: Interview held with Development Director of Grainger plc
  • 37. Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  35 Case study 4 Cherwell District Council: Graven Hill site In March 2013, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Cherwell District Council (Cherwell) agreed on a letter of intent for an off-market sale based on a jointly agreed independent valuation. Key facts Governmental department Ministry of Defence Location Graven Hill, Bicester Number of homes 1,800 Volume of land 187 hectares Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale 10 March 2014 Provision of sales contract Yes Mode of disposal Off-market sale Proceeds from disposal £27.3 million Overage/Clawback Overage with exceptions. No clawback Type of disposal Freehold transferred to CDC for development. Sale and lease back Status Pre-commencement phase in March 2015. Build-out will take ten years Observations As part of its strategic objectives to promote self-built homes, Cherwell purchased the site at Graven Hill from the MoD with the aim of developing the land to include plots for self-built homes. Cherwell will produce a detailed master plan and design codes for the site. It will also obtain a local development order that outlines the building requirements for the self-built plots. Under the order, providing that the self-builder meets the wider building requirements, individual planning consent is not needed. The site’s build-out will be affected by demand from self-builders. Given that a self-build scheme of this scale has never been attempted in the UK, there is some uncertainty about the level of demand. However, Cherwell expects the build-out will take 10 years. The sale agreement between the MoD and Cherwell includes a standard overage provision. However, the overage will not apply to plots sold for self-built units. Cherwell bought the freehold of the site from the MoD, but has leased the site back to the Department while the Department makes arrangements to relocate its activities to other sites. MoD will vacate the Graven Hill site in two phases. It will hand over part of the site in September 2015 and is scheduled to hand over the remainder in 2019. Source: Interview held with Commercial Director of Cherwell District Council and Director of Graven Hill Village Holdings Ltd
  • 38. 36  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes Case study 5 Canal & River Trust: Icknield Port Loop site On 23 January 2015, Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) sold its share of a three-party ownership of land to Canal & River Trust (the Trust). The Birmingham City Council (BCC) is the other land owner and is involved in the development of the site. Key facts Governmental department Homes and Communities Agency Location Icknield Port Loop, Birmingham Number of homes 1,900 Volume of land 18 hectares Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale 23 January 2015 Provision of sales contract Yes Mode of disposal Off-market sale Proceeds from disposal £2.6 million Overage/Clawback Overage and planning clawback provisions included between HCA and the Trust Type of disposal Freehold transferred from HCA to the Trust Status Construction to commence in 2016. Build-out will take ten years Observations Initially, the site was owned by Birmingham City Council, the Trust and HCA. HCA then sold its interest to the Trust. The sale contract between the Trust and the HCA includes overage provisions that provide HCA with a share of value uplift from future onward sales. Both parties later established a limited liability partnership (LLP) through which they will develop the site. Ownership is split 50/50, with both parties pledging their land into the LLP. The Trust own 31 acres (72%) of the site and Birmingham City Council own 12 acres (28%). The developer will be required to take a 50% stake in the partnership and provide working capital as it prepares each phase of the development for sale to housebuilders. The development is expected to take about ten years. The LLP is soon to start a marketing campaign to appoint a developer The intention is to appoint the lead developer in summer 2015 with construction starting in spring/summer 2016. Source: Interview held with Head of Property Development of Canal & River Trust
  • 39. Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  37 Case study 6 Lend Lease: Glasshouse Gardens site In 2011, Lend Lease entered into a 50/50 joint-venture agreement with London Continental Railways, a subsidiary of the Department for Transport to develop the site in Stratford. Key facts Governmental department Department for Transport Location Glasshouse Gardens, Stratford Number of homes 333 (20 allocated for affordable housing) Volume of land 2.2 hectares Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale 27 August 2014 Provision of sales contract Yes Mode of disposal Commercial tender Proceeds from disposal £1.3 million Overage/Clawback No overage or clawback provisions. 50/50 share of joint-venture profit Type of disposal Freehold transferred to the 50/50 joint-venture Status Construction has begun. Expected completion by May 2017 Observations Prior to the London Olympics, Stratford City was earmarked for redevelopment. Through a competitive process, Lend Lease was selected as one of the scheme’s developers. After the Olympics, various sites used to support the event were vacated and designated for development. Lend Lease approached London Continental Railways to form a joint-venture agreement to develop one of these sites, Glasshouse Gardens. Under the agreement, a joint-venture vehicle – Stratford City Business District – was formed to develop the site. As the development progresses, LCR the original landowner will contribute the portion of land required for the phase into the vehicle, while Lend Lease inject an agreed portion of equity. The land value was assessed by independent third party valuers. As the joint-venture is owned by both parties, profits will be shared equally. Capacity was determined based on a combination of Lend Lease’s internal architectural recommendations and constraints on building height and density imposed by Newham Council. Lend Lease also stated that 23 bedroom units were allocated for affordable housing as prescribed by Newham Council. Lend Lease expects the first tower to be completed by November 2016 and the second by May 2017. Source: Interview held with Senior Development Manager of Lend Lease
  • 40. 38  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes Case study 7 Persimmon Homes Ltd (Midlands): Princess Marina Hospital site Persimmon Homes Ltd (Midlands) acquired the site at the former Princess Marina Hospital through a competitive commercial tender in March 2012 for redevelopment. Key facts Governmental department Department of Health Location Princess Marina Hospital, Northampton. Number of homes 550 (35% of which are affordable housing) Volume of land 18 hectares Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale March 2012 Provision of sales contract Information not provided1 Mode of disposal Commercial tender Proceeds from disposal Information not provided1 Overage/Clawback Overage provisions included. No clawback Type of disposal Freehold transferred to Persimmon Homes Status Construction has begun. Partial completion Observations In March 2012, Persimmon Homes Ltd (Midlands) acquired the freehold to the site at the former Princess Marina Hospital for redevelopment. Persimmon Homes was selected as the preferred bidder through a competitive tendering process. The development is expected to deliver 550 homes, 35% of which are allocated as affordable housing. The development has 8 phases. 116 homes have been built and sold as part of phases 1 and 2. While phases 3, 5 and 6 which are expected to deliver 92, 51 and 55 homes respectively, have been partially built and sold. Construction on phases 4, 7 and 8 are yet to start at the time of the interview. The sales agreement include overage provisions, however, Persimmon Homes did not offer further details. Note 1 The National Audit Office was not able to obtain some details of the disposal from the Department of Health as it does not record all details of NHS disposals. Source: Response from the Technical Director of Persimmon Homes Ltd (Midlands) to National Audit Office questionnaire
  • 41. Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  39 Case study 8 Canary Wharf Group plc: Wood Wharf site Canary Wharf Group plc was granted a 250 year leasehold by the British Waterways Board (BWB) to develop the site at Wood Wharf in London. Key facts Governmental department Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and British Waterways Board Location Wood Wharf, London Number of homes 1,668 Volume of land 7 hectares Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale 17 January 2012 Provision of sales contract Information not provided1 Mode of disposal Sale of joint venture share to existing partner Proceeds from disposal Canary Wharf Group paid £52.4 million for British Waterways’ 50% share of Wood Wharf Limited Partnership Overage/Clawback Information not provided1 Type of disposal 250 year leasehold Status Construction has begun. Expected completion around 2020 Observations On 17 January 2012, Canary Wharf Group plc took full control of a previously existing partnership which held a development agreement with British Waterways Board – the site freeholder. Consequently, CWG was granted a 250 year leasehold to develop the site. The written response we have received from CWG does not include details surrounding the purchase such as overage, clawback, mode of disposal or proceeds. CWG states that such details should be requested from the relevant departmental bodies. Defra provided some details but it does not hold a copy of the sales contract. On 24 December 2014, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets granted Outline Planning Permission and Listed Building Consent for a comprehensive mixed use development at Wood Wharf. CWG plans to deliver 1,668 homes and 2 million square feet of office spaces. The development is phased with Phase 1 competing around 2020, delivering around 1,000 homes. At March 2015, no homes have been built. Note 1 Contract details not held by Defra Source: Response from the Assistant Development Manager of Canary Wharf Group plc to National Audit Office questionnaire
  • 42. 40  Appendix Two  Disposal of public land for new homes Case study 9 QDD Athletes Village UK Limited: ODA Olympic Village site QDD Athletes Village UK Limited (QDDAV) acquired the site’s freehold owner SVDP Limited (SVDP) in August 2014, through a competitive process managed by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), to develop a site in Stratford, London. Key facts Governmental department London Legacy Development Corporation Location East Village, Stratford, London Number of homes 1,850 Volume of land Information not provided due to commercial confidentiality Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale August 2014 Provision of sales contract Information not provided due to commercial confidentiality Mode of disposal Competitive tender Proceeds from disposal Information not provided due to commercial confidentiality Overage/Clawback Overage provisions included. No clawback Type of disposal Sale of freehold Status Construction to start mid 2015. Expected completion is beyond 2018 Observations QDDAV is a joint-venture equally owned by Delancey Real Estate Asset Management Ltd’s (Delancey) client funds and Qatari Diar (QD), a subsidiary of Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company. Delancey is a private company that provides investment advisory services, while QD is ultimately owned by the Qatar Investment Authority, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund. In August 2014, the joint-venture acquired the site’s freehold owner, SVDP through a competitive process managed by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA). The acquisition resulted in the joint-venture ultimately owning 1,439 pre-existing private homes, together with six development sites with outline consent for 1,850 homes. QDDAV states that the site now called East Village, benefited from outline planning which had been implemented to deliver the Athletes Village for the 2012 Olympic Games. The development of the six sites will be phased. The first phase of 480 homes is to start in mid-2015 and to complete the end of 2017. While the second phase of 420 homes is planned to start approximately six months after, completing mid-2018. 48 affordable homes would also be delivered mid-2018. The delivery of the remaining homes will be constructed in due course, however, there is no definitive programme at this stage. The agreement includes an overage provision which is triggered two years after completion should the valuation of the 1,439 built units exceed a predetermined threshold. Overage payments are also triggered on the sale or completion of the development of each of the six plots. Additional overage will also be triggered, should financing arrangements over the first five years of ownership result in a projected level of internal rate of return exceeding the agreed benchmark hurdle. Surplus proceeds over the hurdle are shared. Source: Response to National Audit Office questionnaire from the Director of Asset Management of Qatari Diar UK Limited and the Investment Director of Delancey on behalf of QDD Athletes Village UK Limited
  • 43. Disposal of public land for new homes  Appendix Two  41 Case study 10 Reliant Building Contractors Limited: Nuneaton site Key facts Governmental department Department for Transport. Location Nuneaton, Warwickshire Number of homes 90 Volume of land 2.4 hectares Sale confirmed Yes Date of sale 16 October 2008 Provision of sales contract Yes Mode of disposal Auction Proceeds from disposal £0.4 million Overage/Clawback Clawback provisions included Type of disposal Sale of freehold Status Information not provided1 Observations The NAO did not receive a response from Reliant Building Contractors Limited (Reliant) with regards to its acquisition and development of the site in Nuneaton disposed by Department for Transport. Note 1 The National Audit Office was not able to obtain some details of the disposal from the Department for Transport. Source: Information collected from Reliant’s website, available at: http://reliantbuildingcontractors.com/warwickshire.html
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