Digital tool to help deliver thousands of homes

An interactive tool to help match builders to plots of land which are ready for home-building has been launched today, to help get properties completed more quickly.


  • Homes England launches its interactive Land Hub, updated with 148 sites available for development in the next 18 months.
  • Sites total 2,500 acres of developable land.


Nearly 2,500 acres ready for development will be made available to developers, including small and medium-sized building companies, to purchase and get properties built.

The tool has been developed by Homes England, the Government’s housing accelerator.

The Communities Secretary, Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said:

“We are determined to help a new generation realise the dream of home ownership which is why we are determined to see 300,000 new homes built a year by the mid-2020s.

“The Land Hub will help match developers to sites where they can build the properties communities need.”

Over the next 18 months, 148 sites are going to be made available via the online Land Hub with the potential for thousands of homes to be built. The site will include details of the planning status, size and proposed use – such as residential, industrial or commercial – of each site.

Getting the whole sector behind the latest innovations in development and building will be key to achieving 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. Homes England is supporting builders to do this through initiatives such as the Government’s £4.5 billion Home Building Fund, which provides support to builders using modern methods of construction and new, innovative builders entering the market.

Sir Edward Lister, Chairman of Homes England, said:

“Bringing another 148 sites to market demonstrates the scale of Homes England’s ambition to unlock land and accelerate the delivery of homes the country needs.

“We are keen to speak to developers about the opportunities in our latest pipeline and want to collaborate with both major developers and smaller builders to create a more resilient housing market.”

The extra sites being released to developers follows the news that Homes England has agreed a partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to develop land being released by the Ministry of Defence. This has the potential to deliver over 10,000 homes across seven brownfield sites.

Nick Walkley, Chief Executive of Homes England, said:

“This partnership provides another great opportunity for Homes England to intervene in the housing market and make homes happen.

“By combining our skills and expertise with the DIO to progress brownfield sites no longer needed by the Ministry of Defence, we will speed up the process of providing much-needed homes.”


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For more information contact Sarah Tucker, PR and Media Officer at Homes England on 020 7393 2261/07970 973134 or email



Bungalows for the retired? Think again

From grand villas on the Isle of Bute to city centre flats, the over-55s are starting anew


Gabriella Bennett


It used to be easy to recognise a retirement home; unprepossessing flats in modern developments on the fringes of town were the norm. Now it is not so simple.



Retired couples are upsizing to trophy villas, such as this five-bedroom home in Pollokshields, Glasgow, on sale for offers for more than £875,000


Retirees are rewriting the market’s rules by bidding on the same properties as chichi families in urban hotspots. They are also upsizing instead of moving to smaller properties. Figures from the National House Building Council (NHBC) showed that 46 per cent of homeowners aged 55 to 74 spent extra money on their latest move, with 28 per cent buying a larger property with more bedrooms.


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JLL says Build to Rent will bring over 2,000 homes to Bristol by 2021

More than 2,000 new Build to Rent apartments are set to be created in Bristol in the next three years, according to property firm JLL.

We recently outlined the latest activity in the Build to Rent sector and made a site visit to Tipi’s newest development in Wembley Park – both of which act as examples of this trend being in vogue more than any other.

Now JLL says this model of housing - designed specifically for the rental market - is set to play an important role in delivering much-needed housing supply to Bristol, as well as attracting significant investment to the city.

Yesterday, JLL held a sold-out seminar on Build to Rent (hosted by Women in Property), which threw a spotlight on the burgeoning sector. It first came to prominence in the US, where it’s known as multi-family residential. In recent years it’s become increasingly popular in Europe, particularly in Britain, Germany and France.

The model has become firmly established in London of late and is now taking hold in Bristol, with neighbouring cities such as Cardiff and Exeter expected to follow suit.

A fast-growing sector within the UK property market, it attracted over £2 billion of investment last year alone and £2.7 billion the year before that. In contrast to the wider private rented sector, Build to Rent schemes are designed specifically for a community of tenants. They’re also managed by a single professional landlord or investor and offer a range of services and communal spaces, from 24-hour concierge and gyms to co-working space, shared kitchens and guest and event spaces to hire.

The aim is for residents to benefit from an emphasis on quality, community and service, while the model also provides a valuable long-term asset for investors. Meanwhile, for developers, improved cashflow means homes can be delivered in a shorter timeframe than traditional homes.

“The spotlight is on Build to Rent in Bristol with funders, developers and consultants all talking about it and exploring opportunities,” Rachael Sherratt, Women in Property South West vice-chair and associate at JLL in Bristol, said.

“Regional developments of Build to Rent homes are, for the first time, now on a par with numbers being delivered in London, which illustrates that this is definitely a sector that is here to stay.”

She said that one of the key points of difference that comes with a Build to Rent home is convenience.

“In an ever-connected world we are becoming used to having access to services 24/7 and through our mobile devices. So living somewhere where you can request a tap is fixed, get a parcel delivered or book a guest bedroom all through an app or email is highly desirable.”

Examples in Bristol include Finzels Reach, where 194 apartments are being developed by Cubex at Hawkins & George for Grainger, one of the UK’s largest professional landlords. Once completed, it will be the first purpose-designed Build to Rent development to open in Bristol. It’s due to launch soon.

Cubex is also planning a further 250 Build to Rent apartments on the former Avon Fire and Rescue headquarters site as part of the next phase of Finzels Reach.

Elsewhere, there are other Build to Rent schemes at both concept and construction stages around the city. These include Bedminster Green, ND7 at Temple Quay, Castle Park View and around Ashton Gate stadium with their plans for a new community next to the basketball arena.

Sherratt, who is also JLL’s project manager for Hawkins & George at Finzels Reach, added: “There has been a lot of interest from the property community in the apartments at Finzels Reach that we have been working on with Cubex and Grainger. Their interest in this region is bound to be followed by other key names in Build to Rent, and with Bristol regularly voted one of the top places to live in the UK, this should come as no surprise."

Gavin Bridge, executive director at Cubex, said large and seemingly ever-growing numbers of people want to live and work in Bristol, many of whom are looking to rent – some for economic reasons, but many as a lifestyle choice.

“They may want to stay for just a few years with the ability to move on quickly, and they want to live in the heart of a thriving city with a lively social scene, so flexibility and quality are key,” he commented. “In terms of regeneration and the development of the city centre, Build to Rent is now becoming an important part of the mix to create balanced communities alongside homes for private sale and affordable homes.”


The model also paves the way for these communities to be created quickly, Bridge added. “Unlike new homes for sale, Build to Rent apartments will see dozens of homes occupied in a matter of weeks. This means an area thrives fast, and for businesses - like the newly opened Spicer+Cole at Finzels Reach and Left Handed Giant which is opening a brew-pub in the summer - customers are on the doorstep quickly.”


Panellists at the Women in Property-hosted event on Tuesday included Anna Johnson, associate director in Residential Capital Markets in JLL's London office, Gavin Bridge, executive director at Cubex, the developer behind Finzels Reach, and Alex Notay, Build to Rent fund director for PfP Capital, the fund and asset management arm of Places for People Group.


Bristol was recently voted as the best UK city for house-sharers and in a recent BBC study was also found to be the best place to live outside London for those aged under 26.


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Oxford to Cambridge's revived Varsity Line:the 'brain belt' towns offering new commuter homes with future house price growth

A planned new rail link between the UK’s famed university cities promises 100,000 new homes — a game changer for commuters.


The American trend of building new communities around expanding academic institutions and research hubs is coming to Britain, opening up opportunities for commuters and home buyers in the South-East.

New housing schemes are springing up around science parks sited in what has been dubbed the Oxford to Cambridge “knowledge belt,” inspired by the new residential districts built around Stanford University in California and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

An exclusive new study for Homes & Property from property group Bidwells predicts 10,000 new homes will be built over the next four years in the corridor between Britain’s two best-known university cities.

Helping to spur growth is an ambitious plan to reopen the old Varsity Line railway between Oxford and Cambridge, bringing 100,000 new homes by 2031.


Oxbridge: new rail line will link the two university cities

As the crow flies the two cities are about 100 miles apart, yet the quickest way to travel from one to the other is to take a train to London and another one out again, says Rob Hopwood of Bidwells.


Today’s Oxford-Cambridge travel drudge

London King’s Cross to Cambridge North: 57 minutes (there’s a free taxi for commuters to the Cambridge Science Park or a 20-minute walk)

London Paddington to Oxford: 57 minutes (there’s a car-sharing scheme from Oxford to the Oxford Science Park)

Oxford to Cambridge: two changes. The quickest route is two hours and 45 minutes


A new East West Rail link would bring together Oxford — a specialist hub for aerospace and artificial intelligence — and Cambridge, a hub for biotech and pharmaceutical companies, opening up villages and towns that sit in the triangle beween the two uni cities and London, he adds.


Matt Sampson of developer U+I agrees: “There are justifiable sensitivities around the release of the green belt — but the Oxbridge railway is the big change needed to finally unlock this region.”


The railway would run from Oxford to Milton Keynes and Bedford, with five proposed routes between Bedford and Cambridge which are being debated and could mean new stations for Bedford, St Neots, Cambourne, Bassingbourn and Tempsford, and the relocation of the station at Sandy.


Property in Cambridge


Despite high house prices at an average £441,693, Cambridge is already a family favourite and is still cheaper than London.

“The upgrade of Cambridge station and the regeneration of King’s Cross has made the commute more pleasant,” says Richard Freshwater of Cheffins estate agents.

“There are fantastic schools and families get more for their money. Of all the destinations along the East West Railway, Cambridge will be the winner.”

Michael Houlden of Strutt & Parker adds: “The housing market is underpinned by its thriving job market. AstraZeneca, Amazon, Spotify, Google and Apple all have a base here.”


From £319,950 to £1,099,950: flats and houses for sale off-plan at Athena in Cambridge University’s Eddington residential district

The regeneration specialist U+I is transforming the water recycling centre near the Cambridge Science Park into housing. The £3.5 billion project will create 5,200 homes and a million square feet of office, retail, leisure and community space over the next 15 years.


Cambridge University is developing its own residential district, Eddington, named after astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington.

The site will comprise 3,000 homes, 2,000 postgraduate student rooms, a school, a nursery, sports facilities, a market square and parkland. Homes are available to buy off-plan in the first phase.

Properties at Athena, by the developer Hill, will range from flats to five-bedroom detached houses with balconies, courtyard gardens and co-working space.

Prices start from £319,950, with mews houses from £699,950 and detached houses from £1,099,950.

From £275,000 to £699,995: studio flats to four-bedroom houses at Aura, a 650-home scheme in Cambridge by Countryside

Countryside is building 650 homes at Aura, close to the Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology.

Studios cost £275,000, with four-bedroom houses from £699,995.

Surveyor Giles Turton relocated from London to Cambridge nine years ago. His now-wife Emma followed in 2014 and the couple have since built a small property portfolio.


Relocation: Giles and Emma Turton moved to Cambridge from London (Geoff Robinson)

They bought a two-bedroom Victorian terrace house close to the city centre for £350,000 in 2014 and spent about £50,000 modernising it, adding a side return. The house is now worth £500,000.


Giles and Emma have just finished renovating a three-bedroom period property and putting back its character features. It is within a 10-minute cycle ride of the station and near the River Cam.

“We’re confident it will offer us a great return,” says Giles. He now works in Cambridge but Emma still commutes to the City.


Property in Oxford


Prices are one of the biggest threats to Oxford’s science and technology sector with the average house costing 12.6 times average annual earnings.

Just over five minutes from Oxford Parkway station, Hill is building 237 homes at Mosaics. With green roofs and solar panels, this eco-friendly scheme has woodland walkways and playgrounds.

On the outskirts, prices start from £295,000 for a one-bedroom flat, £362,500 for a two-bedroom flat and £540,000 for a three-bedroom house. Help to Buy is available on homes up to £600,000.


From £295,000 to 540,000: one-bedroom flats to three-bedroom houses at Mosaics by developer Hill near Oxford Parkway station

Property in Didcot

Didcot, 15 miles south of Oxford, is a cheaper alternative and right by Milton Park where 250 companies and 9,000 workers are located. It’s one of the largest science clusters in the country.

“Didcot had a bad reputation a few years ago,” says David Green of architecture and urban design firm Perkins+Will, “but it has improved a lot since the power station was turned off.”



Londoners are moving to this city to make their budget go further

Green is working on a masterplan that will bring more homes and connect Didcot with Milton Park.

The average house price in Didcot is £343,138 and Taylor Wimpey is building 3,300 homes at Great Western Park.

A consortium of developers is investing £120 million in the surrounding area on transport and schools.


Property in Milton Keynes


A popular commuter location, Milton Keynes is becoming a business hub in its own right. Goldman Sachs, Metro Bank, Network Rail, Red Bull Racing and Santander all have offices there.

House prices rose eight per cent last year and there is a healthy pipeline of construction.


From £199,000: flats and houses at Oakgrove Village, Milton Keynes

Crest Nicholson is building 1,000 flats and family homes at Oakgrove Village, five minutes from the town centre.


Prices start from £199,000 in the Maple Grove phase and there’s a Waitrose on site, plus a Costa Coffee.


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