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Staffs CC to buy cheaper land

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Staffordshire CC is exploring moves to prop up the development industry by snapping up cheap land from cash-strapped house builders.

Chief executive Ron Hilton told LGC the authority was working up proposals to buy development land, which has plunged in value since the onset of the credit crunch.

Leading volume house builders, including Taylor Wimpey and Barratt , are seeking to off-load development land in order to reduce their liabilities.

Mr Hilton said: “If you buy land off developers, it’s getting easier. This gives developers cash flow and keeps the market moving,” adding that the council would pass sites on to housing associations in order to keep local contractors in work. The council will be outlining its initiative to local developers next month.

Mr Hilton said the West Midlands authority was keen to use the land for developing elderly people’s care housing.

He added that the council was working with the Ministry of Defence on providing non-barracks family housing for military personnel due to be redeployed from Germany to the UK.

Yolande Barnes, head of mixed-use research at property agent Savills , said: “Anybody in a position to buy land should buy it.” But she warned that councils could find themselves with money tied up in land that could be difficult to develop in the current housing market.

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