Church Walk by David Mikhail and Annalie Riches

Making small sites available to support new builders

We want to help make more small publically-owned sites, available to small developers, housing associations, and community-led organisations so they can play a greater role in building the homes that London needs.

What’s the challenge?

Public landowners have limited resources to work on smaller sites. They are often sold in auctions, with little control over the quality and speed of development. They are sometimes ‘banked’ and traded several times before anything is built.

These small sites suit the needs of small builders, however they often struggle with:

  • access to land
  • financing 
  • planning certainty
  • public procurement 

How we will help

Provide a ‘competitive disposal’ service

We aim to offer a service which will combine some of the convenience of land auctions with some of the delivery and quality control of a development agreement, without the need for procurement.

This will allow landowners to select small builders capable of building high quality homes with innovative solutions for complex sites, based on their track record or team background.

Show information on constraints

Where a public landowner decides to use this service, we will commission a full set of surveys to help reduce any risk.

The sites will be marketed with clear, standardised contract terms. Where site surveys uncover constraints, we may fund landowners to unlock sites that would otherwise be unviable, through capital works.

Standardise contracts

  • long lease: Successful builders should receive a long lease, subject to securing planning and finance. 
  • restrictive covenants: Landowners may choose to include covenants limiting the use of the site to affordable and/or community-led housing. 
  • ongoing revenue: Landowners may also defer payment for the land, to help builders’ financing, or set a ground rent converting the land value into a revenue stream for the public landowner.

Help identify more small sites

We can also help public landowners to review their land ownerships, and will look at ways Londoners can suggest potential sites using an interactive map.

What’s next?

We aim to consult on detailed proposals in May, before releasing a small number of sites later in 2017 as a pilot. There are many more sites identified in the pipeline.

Whether you are a small builder or a public landowner and would like to be kept informed of our progress please get in touch via

Small housing sites in London

  • 25%
    of housing capacity
    could be on sites smaller than a third of football pitch
  • 50%
    in small site schemes over last 10 years
  • 66%
    in number of small builders in the last 10 years