NHS organisations plan to place surplus land equivalent to 350 Trafalgar Squares on the market for housing development in the next few years, latest figures from the Department of Health reveal.

The DH data shows providers and primary care trusts have a total of 591 hectares of land considered surplus to requirements and suitable for sale to developers. Of this, 241ha is already on the market, leaving 350ha to place on the market.

The majority of surplus land is from provider trusts, 339ha belonging to foundation trusts. However 112ha belong to PCTs. Greenfield sites accounted for 23ha.

NHS organisations have been instructed to sell off surplus land as part of a cross-government drive to build more homes.

Among the sites earmarked for disposal is the 1.4ha London Chest Hospital, currently owned by Barts Health Trust. The newly merged provider opened a new 110-ward, £650m private finance initiative building on the Royal London Hospital site in March.

Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham will be disposed of by March 2014. The hospital’s clinical services have been moved to the trust’s new Queen Elizabeth Hospital, although some functions remain at Selly Oak.

One of the largest sites to be put up for sale is Frenchay Hospital, owned by North Bristol Trust. Although part of the site will be retained for a new community hospital, 27ha will be sold to build 350-450 homes. The sale will take place by 2019.

Part of the current Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology Foundation Trust site is also set to be sold by 2019. Meanwhile, 5.6ha of vacant land at the separate Clatterbridge Hospital, owned by Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust, is also lined up for sale by the beginning of 2016.

No figures were given for how much money trusts expected to make from the sales. Some of the sites listed, such as the Princess Marina Hospital in Northampton, have already been sold.

Information was gathered from all NHS organisations, although 53 per cent said they had no surplus property.

Ian Caplan, a partner at Bevan Brittan specialising in NHS property, said this could be because many trusts had been disposing of unneeded property for several years.

He said that many PCTs had begun to move more quickly to sell off their surplus assets over the past two years, since it became clear they were to be abolished.

“There has been an increase in activity, definitely… that’s been a focus over the past two years [since the plan to scrap PCTs was announced].”

However, there are regional disparities, with more sales in London and the South East where property values have fallen less sharply than in the north of England.

David Lawrence, head of health for property consultants Capita Symonds, said the planned introduction of year-of-care tariffs should encourage providers to use their assets more intelligently.

“Trusts should be thinking about how to develop estates solutions that complement
their integrated care ambitions in close consultation with clinical commissioning groups, investors and developers,” he said.

Mr Lawrence said trusts should aim to establish “community health and social care campus” developments with a mix of facilities – “rather than a dash for retail or residential schemes alone”.

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