The Secretary of State’s new policy, which seeks to deliver new homes for NHS staﬀ on surplus NHS land, will no doubt bring a number beneﬁts. As well as convenient new places to live for hard-working staﬀ, it could also reduce staﬀ turnover – particularly in higher-cost parts of England – and thus reduce reliance on more expensive agency staﬀ.
But how can Trusts deliver this housing?
On the face of it, it should not be diﬃcult to secure planning permission for new housing on surplus NHS land –there’s a pressing need for new homes and every single unit helps to address that. Local planning authorities are also working hard to secure as much aﬀordable housing as possible through planning applications for new residential development.
But there comes a catch; local councils want aﬀordable housing to reduce their own, often very long, waiting lists – and NHS staﬀ are likely to be a much lower priority than, say, families in sub-standard temporary accommodation. Consequently, even when Trusts bring forward land for development there is no guarantee that the resultant planning permission will give their staﬀ ‘ﬁrst dibs’. There is therefore an obvious and immediate tension which requires management at an early stage.
There is always the option to provide additional aﬀordable housing in excess of local planning requirements but then that would negatively aﬀect the land receipt – and therefore the amount of money that surplus land sales can yield for reinvestment into the healthcare estate. And that’s not mentioning the requirement to achieve Best Value.
In our experience this needs a longer-term ‘investment’ in the development and disposals process; trying to achieve a receipt in the shortest time possible will almost inevitability compromise landowners’ abilities to achieve wider aims.
We are here to help. Our health care advisory team has a wealth of experience in town planning, valuation (including Red Book valuations and asset valuation), development advisory, and agency and disposal. Our rating advisors can help Trusts to make the best use of their resources and our aﬀordable housing advisors – who include board members of aﬀordable housing organisations – add an important dimension to our service. Together we are currently advising over 100 Trusts in England and in the past year achieved £70m of receipts for reinvestment in the healthcare estate.