Some sites have already been sold off. Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Trust has agreed the sale of Fulwood House in Sheffield, which it says is a locally important heritage asset.
The site sold for £12.3million. The plan is to use it for housing, with an estimated 161 homes, of which 40 would be affordable, according to figures from NHS Digital. Housing plans on NHS land are encouraged to offer affordable housing to NHS staff first. As of March 31, there were no plans to do that on this site.
Other high-price sales include Hawks Road Clinic in Kingston, which sold for £9.708m, with the plan to use it for housing, with an estimated 100 homes. Also sold for developments including housing were Chiswick Health Center for £9.5 million, Brocklebank Health Center in Wandsworth for £8.2m, Flat AC in Westminster for £6.325m.
West London NHS Trust has identified Broadmoor Hospital, in Bracknell Forest, as surplus to requirements. It estimates the site, which is a listed building, could be sold for £28m. The kitchen garden at the site could also be sold off for £6m This could be used to provide 210 homes.
Other sites in the area have been identified as opportunities – these are sites that could be declared surplus and a plan to sell them off developed. These include the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital Western Development Zone in Harrow, which could sell for £35m and be used for 92 homes.
Leeds General Infirmary, which is a listed building, has also been identified as an opportunity, and the site could be sold for £17.8m, and used for a mixed development with 200 homes. The information from NHS Digital says sale of both of these sites could be delayed by the need to move facilities at the site elsewhere.
There may be more surplus land that has been identified in the area, however not every site is individually listed in the data. A number have been marked as sensitive so are included in the overall figures but not in the local breakdown.
The NHS Long Term Plan states that the NHS will improve the way it uses its land, buildings and equipment. One of the ways in which it’s expected to do this is by disposing of unnecessary land to enable reinvestment while supporting the government’s target to build new homes for NHS staff.
As part of this target, NHS workers should be given first refusal on affordable homes built on surplus land. The Government hoped this would benefit up to 3,000 families.
As at March 31, 2022, 441 plots of land had been declared as surplus or potentially surplus to requirements by 110 trusts and by NHS Property Services (which manages around 10% of the NHS estate). Of these, 67 plots had already been sold (with a disposal year of 2021/22 onwards).
The sold off plots had brought in £94.07m pounds. Beyond that, the estimated sales receipt for surplus or potentially surplus land was £1,211m pounds.
When submitting plans for housing, developers are expected to include provision of affordable housing. Nationally, the policy is 10% of the homes should be affordable, which includes social rented, affordable rented and rent to own or shared ownership properties, although local policies may vary and there are exemptions.
Across 229 non-sensitive sites listed by NHS Digital, 133 have been identified as having potential to provide housing. They could provide an estimated 5,653 homes, of which 784 could be affordable.
However, just 96 of those affordable homes have been identified as being offered to NHS staff via right of first refusal.
The Department of Health said it was working with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and NHS England to explore how surplus public sector land released for housing could support health infrastructure needs, including key worker accommodation.
It said demand for homes for NHS staff has predominantly been for properties in London, with NHS Trusts in the capital also developing additional ways to respond to their staff’s needs, including rental model partnerships with housing providers. A Department for Health evaluation shows ownership has not been the most attractive option to NHS staff, and it intends to review our approach over coming months.
Among recent new uses for surplus NHS land are a new Aldi store planned at the entrance to The Alexandra Hospital, Redditch, and 21 affordable homes planned for land at Hythe hospital in Hampshire.
Consultation is underway on the store, on sloped grassland which is not used for any healthcare, with all sale proceeds from the site to be reinvested into future developments at the hospital. In Hampshire, New Forest District Council has agreed to purchase the site to develop housing, with the NHS Digital figures listing sales receipts of £1 million for the site.
While all of the 21 homes planned for land at Hythe hospital are affordable, the NHS Digital figures show none will be offered to NHS staff via right of first refusal. The current policy on NHS surplus land sales is based on the recommendations of the Naylor Review in 2017.
This set out to develop a new NHS estate strategy that supported Government plans to release money from sites, which could then be reinvested in the NHS, and to deliver land for new homes. Its analysis identified receipts of £2.7billion from inefficiently used land and property (possibly more if things like planning permission went the right way), and the review made a number of recommendations for how to achieve this.
The Government broadly accepted the recommendations in the report in 2018. This led to the setting up of the NHS Property Board to support estate planning and management and support plans for sales of surplus land.
It also allows NHS providers to retain the receipts generated from the sale of surplus land and property, on the condition they are reinvested to deliver local priorities. Bids for access to capital funds would also need to be backed by plans for how NHS organizations would maximise the disposal of surplus land and property across their area.