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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April, 2004, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Q&A: Affordable housing
The new scheme will deliver 5,000 new affordable homes
John Prescott has struck a deal with the NHS to build 15,000 homes for key public sector workers, young families and those looking for low rent schemes.

The move is part of the deputy prime minister's plan to make up the shortfall in house building.

BBC News Online takes a look at how the latest scheme will work.

Q: Where are the sites that will be sold off?

All of the 101 NHS sites that will be turned into affordable housing schemes are in England and 75% of them are brownfield sites.

A third of those earmarked for development are in the south east where house prices are up to nine-times some workers' wages, but just two sites are in London.

The remainder are evenly spread out across the rest of England and range from hospital buildings that will be demolished, to NHS-owned land, properties no longer occupied and a social club.

But the money raised from the land sell-off will go back into funding NHS buildings and equipment, although the government is currently unable to say how much this will be.

Q: Why has the land been set aside for key workers?

Average house prices in England and Wales can be six times the average wage of a nurse; only in the north of England and Scotland are homes in the majority of towns affordable to key workers.

The government has subsidy schemes that help key workers by providing financial help whether they want to buy, rent or belong to a shared ownership scheme - a mortgage and rent paid to the local authority or a housing association.

However, the assistance only helps a fraction of the UK's teachers, police and prison officers, firefighters, health and community workers who want to buy a home.

As well as funding more schemes like the Key Worker Living Programme, the government also faces a higher demand for housing, a shortfall in available land and restrictive planning authorities, according to the recent Barker review on housing.

Q: Who will manage the land and build the homes?

English Partnerships, the national regeneration agency that has a register of surplus land held by the government, will decide with local authorities and Regional Development Agencies on how best to utilise the land.

The development of each site will vary from location to location and although the government aims to deliver more than 15,000 new homes, at least 5,000 of them will be made affordable.

The types of housing on each site will depend on local planning policies, location and what is required of each community to make it sustainable for the future.

Once a plan has been outlined the private sector will build the homes along with housing associations.

Q: How will the scheme fit into the wider community?

Mr Prescott has said that the land will also be used to regenerate priority areas and it will fit in with the Sustainable Communities Plan.

This is a 22bn investment programme that aims to improve housing, planning, public transport and the environment.

The government has said that it is too early to say what will happen on individual sites, but discussions with local authorities have taken place and detailed work on whether community centres will be built is on-going.

Once the private sector is given the go-ahead to start building the homes, proposals for each site will be worked on further.

NHS sell-off for cheaper housing
07 Apr 04  |  Politics

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