Auction boss calls on Javid to bring public sites to auction

The head of one of the UK’s leading auction networks has welcomed new housing secretary Sajid Javid’s pledge to deliver more sites for housebuilding.

Rory Daly, chief executive officer of SDL Auctions, said he was pleased the Minister was focusing on all land in public ownership but urged him to put particular focus on the thousands of smaller plots of land currently sitting in local authority ownership.

“Over the past 15 years, we have sold many such sites for local authorities such as Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Sandwell through our auctions and many of these sites now have owner-occupiers living in houses built on them.

“Smaller sites tend to be snapped up at auction by the smaller developers – developers who cannot afford to sit on sites in a land bank but must turn a profit as soon as possible for cashflow reasons.

“This means that previously derelict or underused land is now in profitable use, having created work for local contractors, and been bought by local people who are now paying local council tax.

“It really is a Win-Win circle that can only benefit the local community,” he said.

Savid Javid, MP for Bromsgrove, was making his first statement since the rebranding of his department as the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

He said he would use his Cabinet status to deliver more sites for housebuilding.

And he revealed that the recipients of the £2.3 billion housing infrastructure grants to enable councils to develop new sites would be disclosed in the coming weeks.

Theresa May’s reshuffle saw Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, named as the specific Housing Minister.

Rory Daly said: “Dominic Raab is the 16th housing minister in 20 years, in a role which ironically has become something of a revolving door in government.

“I hope he and Sajid Javid can pull together to really make a difference this time.

“It is not just local authorities that are sitting on sites. A lot of government departments have public sector land that can be turned into homes.”

He said it was important that the Government did not look at the national housing shortage in isolation.

“Delivering more housing has a crucial part to play in a healthy economy. It means increased productivity, delivering homes in the right places and must been seen in the overall context of the need also to free up land for employment use.

“The auction house cuts through all the prevarication and is the ideal solution to what to do with a site that nobody can make their mind up about.

“If a council is willing to state that a site is considered suitable for housing, then let the market decide,” he urged.

“Our valuers know the locality. We understand the underlying demand from small developers and we believe that for every site there is a developer – if only the developer knew about the site and was given the potential to access it.

“And every new house pays council tax. With local authorities constantly under huge budgetary pressure, this can only be good news all round.

“What we need is real evidence of concerted action from Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab and this country could enter a housebuilding era not seen since the end of the second world war,” he said.