Network Rail releases land for 12,000 new homes by 2020

Network Rail has announced that they will be releasing enough land around the UK to develop 12,000 new homes by 2020. 

For more than a decade, Network Rail has been releasing former railway lands on a site-by-site basis, with land for 1,700 homes released during 2009-2014 and 1,200 homes having already been unlocked in the current investment period.

However, with mounting pressure for homes to be built in the UK, Network Rail has now released a complex plan lasting until 2020 to both release significant amounts of land from the operational railway estate, and maximise the potential for homes on this land. 

Network Rail has pledged to continue to assess sites and assets throughout the process to maximise both the number of sites that are available for release as well as maximise the potential number of homes. The current plans encompass close to 200 sites available across the UK. The land earmarked for release is set to provide space for 5,000 homes in London, 1,400 in the South of England, 1,700 homes in the East and Midlands, and 3,600 in the north. 

The first 20 sites, which are the largest sites in current plans, could according to National Rail’s assessment yield over 5,000 homes. This will contribute to the government’s target to release land to yield at least 160,000 homes and the government’s overall target of a million homes by 2021.

For site identification, the assessment of building potential, purchasing and ultimately the development of sites, National Rail is partnering with developers around the UK. Working with partners, land will be assessed and released on a site-by-site basis over the next three to four years. Due to continued pressure to free land faster, an accelerated approach is now being considered, which would allow for some sites to be grouped for sales purposes.

The selling of this land to developers will bring in a significant amount of finance, which is currently set to be reinvested into the railway.

David Biggs, managing director of Network Rail Property said: “The railway stands as a backbone of the UK economy. Unlocking railway land for redevelopment investing in stations and infrastructure, can and does transform large swathes of our towns and cities and boost local and regional economies.”

The newly unlocked availability of railway lands for development of homes will be done in parallel to the April 2016 announcement by government to deliver 10,000 homes around active UK railway stations, where plans are already in progress for York, Taunton and Swindon.