One Public Estate: Brownfield Land Release Fund 2 (BLRF2) Round 3 – fund details

Key dates

  • Open to applications 
  • Closing date: 23:59 on Wednesday 28 February 2024


Since 2017, One Public Estate (OPE) has partnered with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to deliver the Brownfield Land Release Fund (BLRF) and its predecessor the Land Release Fund (LRF): DLUHC funded programmes that enable councils to bring forward their surplus land for new homes.

One Public Estate is a partnership between the Office of Government Property (OGP) in the Cabinet Office (CO), the Local Government Association (LGA) and DLUHC. Our aim is to bring public sector bodies together in order to create better places; to use public assets more efficiently, create service and financial benefits, and release land for development to create new homes and jobs for communities. 

At the Spending Review 2021, the Chancellor announced a £1.8 billion package of investment to regenerate communities and level-up the country, unlocking new homes on derelict and underused brownfield land.

As part of this, up to £180 million Brownfield Land Release Fund 2 (BLRF2) capital grant funding was made available to all English councils to support the release of council-owned brownfield land for housing. The first two rounds of BLRF2 awarded almost £100m over 2022/23 and 2023/24 to release land for almost 8,600 homes by March 2027.  

The third and final round of BLRF2 is now open, offering up to £80 million for English councils to apply through their OPE Partnerships

Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) are eligible, as are their constituent councils. The Greater London Authority (GLA) is also eligible, but please note this relates to the GLA only and does not comprise the whole GLA Group.

BLRF2 will support levelling up ambitions by releasing land for new homes. The fund will support regeneration in places that need it, restoring a sense of community and local pride and spreading opportunity across England so that every place can realise its potential. 

BLRF2 funding can be provided alongside other government funding to unlock brownfield projects: in such cases the assessment of value for money will take all government funding into account. Further information is provided throughout the Fund Details and the Technical Annex (TA) and we would encourage you to contact your OPE Regional Team to discuss further. 

OPE Partnerships are invited to coordinate applications within their areas for BLRF2 Round 3. Up to £80m of funding is available for award during 2024/25. 

To give Partnerships a sense of the diversity of projects coming forward under BLRF2 Round 2, examples include;

  • Hull – £980,000 to release land at a former school site to deliver 99 new homes for affordable rent as part of the city’s regeneration drive.
  • Newcastle upon Tyne – £1.82 million to boost wider regeneration by releasing a complex site to deliver 146 new build-to-rent homes for communities in Benwell and Scotswood.
  • Bognor Regis – £628,000 will unlock an £8 million scheme to rejuvenate a listed town centre building, delivering 35 new homes and improved retail space to support local regeneration.
  • Sunderland – £1.81m to transform and remediate a former riverside industrial site to create a new urban quarter at Farringdon Row in Sunderland delivering 140 new high quality low carbon, build-to-rent homes.
  • Rochdale – £271,000 funding has unlocked delivery of 14 purpose-built homeless and supported accommodation units on a former car park and garage site.
  • Somerset – £213,800 to demolish existing rundown garages and deliver 11 low-carbon one, two and three bedroom affordable homes subject to securing planning permission. 

To find out more about past BLRF/LRF projects, including more case studies of previously successful projects, visit


The delivery of high quality new homes across England is a national priority for the UK Government. This is supported by many councils who are increasingly taking a more hands-on role in the delivery of homes in order to meet local needs and address their placemaking priorities. 

BLRF2 enables councils to unlock otherwise unviable brownfield land for new homes, at the same time supporting the UK Government’s levelling up ambitions by regenerating local places, reducing geographical inequalities, and empowering local leaders to build pride in place.

About the fund

Since 2017 LRF and BLRF have accelerated the release of council-owned land for over 5,000 homes to help increase the public sector contribution to land supply and drive innovation in housebuilding. The programme currently supports 430 live projects on council-owned land that are on track to release land for around a further 18,500 homes by 2027.

The programme is unique in targeting council-owned small and medium sized sites that have been previously developed, and where viability issues have prevented their redevelopment. BLRF2 allows councils to determine the type, tenure and delivery mechanism for the new homes, drawing on their understanding of local needs. Funding support can enable delivery at pace by bridging these viability challenges and accelerating the release of land for new homes.

Aims and objectives

The aims of BLRF2 are to: 

  • Release council-owned land within three years of receiving funding, for housing development that otherwise would not come forward during that period;
  • Encourage the use of public assets to drive innovative delivery, where possible supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) / Low and Medium Volume Builders (LMVBs), creating new delivery models, supporting high-quality design and adopting modern methods of construction;
  • Demonstrate a return for government investment into these small sites.

Our definition of what constitutes ‘land released’ is set out under ‘Deliverability and Mitigation of Risk’ further below 

The funding will provide up-front capital to address viability issues arising from abnormal costs of the proposed development. The type of abnormal costs requiring funding may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Site levelling, groundworks, demolition, remediation;
  • Provision of small-scale infrastructure;
  • Highways works or other access challenges;
  • Addressing environmental constraints;
  • External works, substructure and piling;
  • Asbestos removal;
  • Sewer diversions.

More details on eligible and ineligible costs can be found under ‘Deliverability and Mitigation of Risk’ below. 

For BLRF2, land can be defined as “released” when:

a) an unconditional contract, development agreement or building licence with a private sector partner is signed, or a freehold or leasehold transfer takes place;

b) land has transferred to a development vehicle owned, or partly owned, by the local authority; or

c) the point at which development begins on site if (a) and (b) have not happened; 

d) in the case of self and custom-build, if (a), (b) or (c) do not apply, land is released when contracts are exchanged on the first plot.

Following on from previous Self and Custom Build (SCB) funding, BLRF2 will continue to support councils to bring forward serviced self and custom build plots on brownfield land where this can be delivered in line with the fund criteria. This will be reflected in the assessment of the scheme. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the UK Government’s definition of self and custom build.

How the fund is operating

The UK Government made up to £180 million of capital grant funding available under BLRF2 to unlock and accelerate the release of homes. The funding spans three years from 2022/23 to 2024/25. Up to £80 million will be available in 2024/25 through this round: BLRF2 Round Three. 

BLRF2 is aimed at small and medium sized sites that can release land swiftly with funding support, reflecting the programme’s primary aim for land to be released within 3 years of receiving the funding. This should be an important consideration for applicants.   

There is no fixed lower or upper limit for each application in terms of homes or site size. As a guide, the average size of a successful BLRF2 Round Two project was 63 homes, while the median was 25 homes. We would expect the majority of applications to be under £2 million. 

Should a council feel there is a strong strategic case for a larger bid, exemplary evidence of the deliverability, risk management and project governance approaches to assure land release by 31 March 2028 will be required. 


BLRF2 Round 3 will close for applications at 23:59 on Wednesday 28 February 2024.

OPE Partnerships and councils are strongly encouraged to work with their OPE Regional Team in developing their bids to make these as strong as possible. 

OPE Partnerships may submit an application at any time up to the closing date.

Round 3 

  • Up to £80m available

  • Deadline for applications – 23:59 on 28 February 2024 

  • Decision on applications and announcement of funding awards - Summer 2024

  • Works contracts for BLRF2-funded activity signed - by 31 March 2025 

  • Land release deadline - by 31 March 2028

This is the final round of funding for the BLRF2 programme. 

All councils awarded funding will be required to sign a Grant Funding Agreement (GFA). A draft version is available under ‘How to Apply’.

Application criteria

BLRF2 is open to all councils across England, specifically: Borough, County, District, London Borough, Metropolitan Borough, and Unitary Councils. Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) are eligible, as are their constituent councils. The Greater London Authority (GLA) is also eligible, but please note this relates to the GLA only and does not comprise the whole GLA Group.

Applications must be coordinated by the OPE Partnership and submitted via the designated accountable body of your local OPE Partnership. We welcome concise, clearly structured, and well-referenced proposals. 

Our assessment will be based on the material provided within the Application Form, Basic Details form and Technical Annex. We will also use published placed-based information , to help prioritise applications from places most in need of levelling up.

There is no limit to the number of applications that a council can submit, though councils should factor in their ability to deliver all schemes to the required timescales, should all be successful. Each application must relate to an individual site, although we would accept sites that are divided by roads, provided these do not create a significant barrier between parcels of land and sites that would otherwise be contiguous. Multi-site, portfolio applications are not eligible for this funding route.

We encourage applicants to review the FAQs, where further information and definitions can be found. These will be updated throughout the application window as queries are raised by applicants. Before applying, applicants should read the Fund Details, Technical Annex and accompanying guidance, FAQs, Application Form and other supporting documents. 

All applications will be jointly assessed by the OGP, LGA and DLUHC.

The assessment process will follow three stages, as detailed below:

  • Eligibility criteria
  • Gateway criteria
  • Project prioritisation criteria

Eligibility criteria (pass/fail)

Applications will only be considered if the following criteria are satisfied:

  • The land to which the application relates to is previously developed land (brownfield land) as defined in the Glossary (Annex 2) of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).    
  • The land is in council ownership at the point of application. For BLRF2 applications that are part of a larger project, or a project where there may be multiple landowners involved, BLRF2 can only fund works on (or in respect of releasing) the council-owned land.
  • The project must undertake capital works on council-owned land only; funding is not available for works already undertaken or contracted before the Grant Funding Agreement is signed by all parties. 
  • The applicant must ensure any works contracts for BLRF2 Round 3 funded activity are signed by 31 March 2025 and evidence of this should be provided to OPE by 14 April 2025. All councils awarded funding will be required to sign a Grant Funding Agreement (GFA). 
  • The project must be able to release land by 31 March 2028 .
  • The council has a general or specialised housing need. 
  • The council’s S151 Officer or Chief Executive must sign the application. 
  • The council or OPE Partnership must notify relevant local MPs of their submitted application.
  • The OPE Partnership must:
    • Operate an effective partnership board.
    • Continue to ensure updates regarding all land and property assets (except social housing stock) owned by partnership councils and public sector partners are undertaken on the ePIMS Lite system (or its successor) by the end of the financial year in which any BLRF2 funding is awarded, and annually thereafter. The OPE Programme continues to require applicants’ commitment to updating ePIMS on an annual basis.  
    • Adhere to reporting requirements, by providing regular data on project progress and benefits delivery updates - currently this is required three times a year, and;
    • Consent to the sharing of application documents for the purposes of assessing the bid application. The documents will be shared with LGA, OGP, and DLUHC, and may be shared with other Government Departments as required. Documents will be stored in line with GDPR requirements. 

Gateway criteria (pass/fail)

If the project passes the eligibility criteria, it will be considered against the following gateway criteria:

  • Evidence of value for money.
  • Evidence of market failure.
  • Evidence of deliverability and mitigation of risk.

Eligible costs 

BLRF2 funding will provide upfront capital investment in order to create a viable project and can cover abnormal costs that may include:

  • Site levelling, groundworks, demolition, remediation;
  • Provision of small-scale infrastructure;
  • Highways works or other access challenges;
  • Addressing environmental constraints;
  • External works, substructure and piling;
  • Asbestos removal;
  • Sewer diversions.

Physical works for site activation (such as hoardings, welfare facilities, skips etc.) can be included but not any associated revenue costs.   

This is not an exhaustive list but if proposed expenditure does not fall into these categories, please contact your OPE Partnership Lead or Regional Programme Manager for further advice. 

Ineligible costs

BLRF2 covers capital costs for abnormal works that address the defined market failures and will unlock the site for development within the specified timescales. The following are not eligible for funding through BLRF2:

  • Revenue costs, such as: officer time; work management fees; professional fees; planning fees and planning consultancy; design fees; highways inspection and management; plus project management including revenue costs associated with site activation;
  • Early stage feasibility studies;
  • Community engagement;
  • Off-site infrastructure unless directly related and proportionate to the scheme;
  • Design/planning costs;
  • Procurement costs;
  • Costs related to the construction of the housing;
  • Most site investigations unless directly associated with facilitating another eligible cost. 

This is not an exhaustive list, your OPE PartnershipProgramme Manager or Regional Programme Manager can help with any specific queries for costs not listed above.

Applicants should recognise the potential for cost inflation between the date of application and the delivery of works and should base cost estimates on the projected delivery period.  The BLRF2 programme will not cover cost overruns. 

Evidencing costs

Evidence of the cost and duration of works to be covered by BLRF2 must be provided. For larger projects delivering significant on site or off-site infrastructure, quotes for the work with any supporting information would be helpful. If this information is currently unavailable, indicative budgets should be supported by evidence of comparable works or information from other recognised data sources to justify these assumptions. 

Project prioritisation criteria

If the project passes both the eligibility and gateway criteria, it will be prioritised for funding using the criteria set out below. 

  • Place-based metrics (50 percent).
  • Strategic case (35 percent).
  • Innovation (10 percent).
  • Public Sector Equality Duty (5 percent).

Place-based metrics

Place-based metrics carry 50 percent of the overall weighting.

Both deprivation and productivity data will be used to provide a place based metric score, which will be automatically applied to the application. Applicants are not required to provide evidence to support this element of the application. 

Further details of how this will be calculated are provided below:

  • Deprivation: the proportion of lower super output areas in a council area that are in the 10 percent most deprived lower super output areas nationally, as per the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2019 – a widely used way of measuring deprivation. This enables the identification of areas with particularly concentrated deprivation that will benefit from holistic regeneration to address complex problems and provide a new economic purpose.
  • Productivity: Gross Value Added (GVA) per hour worked (2019), a widely used labour productivity measure. This enables the identification of areas that are performing less well economically than other parts of the country, and which will benefit from regeneration that creates spaces fit for the modern economy.

These two metrics have been weighted 75:25 per cent in favour of the Index of Multiple Deprivation and ranked. Subsequently, this ranked list was used to calculate the corresponding score between 0 – 50. The Place based list can be found in the How to Apply  section of our web pages.

Strategic case

The strategic case carries 35 percent of the overall weighting, which will be assessed against the opportunity, and links to local and national government priorities.

Applications must articulate how - and the degree to which - the project will have a positive impact on local strategic objectives. This can include, but is not limited to: 

  • Local Plan: Housing delivery and affordable housing, regeneration, economic development, design, density, area specific policies or site allocations;
  • Housing: housing mix & tenure including proposals that contribute to the provision of  Affordable Housing, Social Housing, Key Worker, Older Persons Housing, Ex-Service Personnel, Homelessness, Ex-Offenders;
  • Regeneration/Placemaking: Strategies and policies (outside of the Local Plan Policy) relating to Levelling Up, Economic Development, Regeneration, Local Employment, Local Suppliers, Skills or Apprenticeship (inc Local Enterprise Partnership or similar partnership policies);
  • Net Zero/Environment/Transport: strategies relating to Biodiversity, Protected Species, Net Zero, Local Transport Plan;
  • Health, Community and Social Care: strategies relating to Adult Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, Community Safety.

Applications should demonstrate a clear connection between the impact of the project, evidenced against specific and relevant policies/objectives, such as housing regeneration and economic development. Project outcomes and impacts should clearly contribute to monitored policy goals/outcomes, such as those that support affordable housing.

The Strategic Case will be assessed for both impact and evidence. Projects that demonstrate contribution towards the delivery of multiple objectives across a broad range of up to date policy areas will score highest for impact. 

Applicants are also asked to demonstrate through the strategic case that their proposals strongly align with up to date Local Plan objectives as well as relevant strategies and objectives, such as the council’s Housing Strategy. The highest possible score for the strategic case will generally be awarded to authorities that have:

  • An up-to-date Local Plan in place (adopted within the last five years), or;
  • Completed their Local Plan Review within the 5-year window and determined that their plan remains in date, or;
  • Submitted their Local Plan for independent examination.

To score strongly for evidence, applications will clearly reference specific objectives/policies within up to date strategies, demonstrating a clear direct link between the objectives/policies, and the project itself. 

Furthermore, supporting documentation should have gone through a process of external consultation and/or scrutiny before becoming official council policy by an appropriate democratic process. Supporting documentation should be as up to date as possible and reflect wider relevant national policy and guidance. For example, where a project meets the requirements of a number of housing and regeneration policies/objectives in an adopted Local Plan, the Local Transport Plan and the council’s Housing Strategy, then we would anticipate that such evidence would support a strong strategic fit. 


Innovation carries 10 percent of the overall weighting.

Projects will be assessed based on innovative models of delivery. Areas of innovation could include: 

  • Projects demonstrating a positive local economic impact, maximising the involvement of Small and Medium Sized businesses (SMEs);
  • Proposals to take forward development at at a faster pace than conventional construction and development methodologies;
  • Use of modern methods of construction/innovative design;
  • Joint ventures;
  • Joining-up across local authority boundaries;
  • A commitment to net-zero carbon opportunities;
  • Self and custom build.

Meeting baseline regulatory requirements in these areas would by itself not be considered sufficient evidence of innovation, for example projects meeting but not exceeding the requirements of the building regulations with respect to energy efficiency.   

Applications should also demonstrate strong local commitment to delivering the innovative approach(es). For instance, the approach has been formally agreed via a policy, committee or Cabinet, or senior officer delegation.

Public sector equality duty (PSED)

The public sector equality duty carries 5 percent of the overall weighting.

Projects that guarantee ownership or tenure for people who share one or more protected characteristics (as defined in the Equality Act 2010) in the local area, who struggle to attain appropriate housing, will be given a 5 percent increase to their overall score. Examples could include guaranteed ownership or tenure:

  • In areas where those sharing one or more protected characteristics have disproportionately low home ownership; and/or 
  • In areas where those sharing one or more protected characteristics suffer disproportionately from overcrowding.

Meeting baseline regulatory requirements in these areas would by itself not be considered sufficient evidence to receive an increased PSED score, for example, projects meeting but not exceeding the requirements of the building regulations with respect to accessibility. 

PSED will be assessed for impact and evidence. The highest score for impact will be awarded to projects that clearly affirm/guarantee ownership or occupation for people who share one or more protected characteristics, and that this responds to an identified local need within a formally approved strategy. 

Projects should also demonstrate strong local commitment to delivering the identified PSED benefits. For instance, the approach has been formally agreed via a policy, committee or Cabinet, or senior officer delegation, and is beyond every public body's overall duty in respect of equality. 


Reporting against project progress is a mandatory condition of funding, as set out in the Grant Funding Agreement. Project leads will be required to report on six milestones at each reporting period, which is currently three times per year, as well as providing a narrative on the project’s key risks/issues to delivery. The six milestones are detailed in the FAQs. We advise applicants to review the terms and conditions of funding as set out in the draft Grant Funding Agreement.