LDS Sales Guarantees

Data analysis, policy creation and stakeholder engagement to highlight how councils can unlock small plots of land to build 1.6 million homes

Unlocking small sites for SME housebuilders has long been seen as part of the solution to solving the housing crisis – but SMEs have faced significant barriers to accessing appropriate sites, and securing planning permission and funding.

We worked with LDS Sales Guarantees and Nimbus Maps on a unique study of Land Registry data to show how many new homes could be built on council-owned land in England and developed a policy paper to show how councils can unlock this land for SME housebuilders.

Be The Best Communications worked to cleanse and sort the data in order to reveal that local authorities own enough unused small plots of land to build 1.6 million homes.

The research found that councils in England and Wales own almost 320,000 unused “small sites” – which are all three acres or less in size.

When combined we were able to show that the sites cover a total of nearly 100,000 acres, or 400 square kilometres – an area roughly the size of Birmingham and Manchester put together.

When combined, the small sites could accommodate a total of 1.6 million homes, providing enough living space for 3.8 million people at national average occupancy rates of 2.4 people per property.

Our researchers also identified that 79,172 unused plots of land – covering 24,098 acres exist in areas covered by Mayoral Combined Authorities in England.

If the ten combined authorities in England followed a refined example of London’s Small Sites x Small Builders scheme – a programme designed to unlock land for SME housebuilders – our research showed this could unlock enough space to build 457,000 homes.

Our policy team also wrote and designed a white paper to calling for combined authorities to adopt new planning rules to help unlock small sites for SME housebuilders.

We then then worked with key industry stakeholders such Andrew Lewer MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for SME housebuilders and Chris Carr, National Vice President of the Federation of Master Builders to support the policy paper on how to unlock this land for SME housebuilders.