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One Public Estate and Self and Custom-Build September 2021

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In the 2020 Spending Review, the Chancellor announced a new Brownfield Land Release Fund to support local authorities bring forward sites for housing development and self and custom-build serviced plots. In response the One Public Estate programme launched the Self and Custom Build Fund.


Applications are now closed

The One Public Estate (OPE) programme is a partnership between the Office of Government Property (OGP) in the Cabinet Office, the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). Our joint aim is to bring public sector bodies together; to create better places by using public assets more efficiently, creating service and financial benefits for partners; and releasing public land for housing and development. We provide revenue support plus expertise to locally led OPE partnerships to achieve these ambitions. Our programme also delivers the Land Release Fund (LRF), capital funding which enables local authorities to bring forward surplus land for housing development.  

OPE already supports a number of cross public sector priorities including housing, health and social care integration, joined-up public services, town centre revival, regeneration, local growth deals and net-zero carbon ambitions. Our programme’s national coverage and flexibility means it is also supporting recovery from the pandemic and the Government’s commitment to level-up every part of the UK by investing in towns, cities, rural and coastal areas.

In 2017, the OPE programme implemented a new funding model in order to support more projects in future years. The expectation was that ‘Sustainable Grants’ would be recycled into new and innovative OPE partnerships and projects. To date, OPE has distributed £8.3 million in Sustainable Grants.  This application round, OPE9, will see recycled Sustainable Grants become available. Under OPE9, the programme will build on this model, increasing the availability of Sustainable Grants to 75 per cent of the overall funding available. This will ensure that funding can continue to support projects in future years. Other changes to Sustainable Grant funding can be found in the One Public Estate funding section, including the terms on which grants are recycled to better link to relevant project milestones.

At Spending Review 2020, the Chancellor announced a new Brownfield Land Release Fund, an element of the National Home Building Fund (NHBF) to support local authorities to bring forward sites for housing development and self and custom-build serviced plots. As part of this, the OPE programme launched the first Self and Custom Build (S&CB) fund in April 2021. We are now seeking further projects to come forward in this second round.

c.£26 million of funding is available, comprising:

  • c.£20 million capital grant for the second phase of the S&CB fund, to support delivery of S&CB projects on brownfield or greenfield land
  • £6 million revenue grant for the ninth phase of OPE, 75 per cent of which will be awarded as sustainable grant funding, to support cross-public sector land and property projects

OPE partnerships are invited to coordinate applications for both OPE and S&CB funding in their area. Both new and existing OPE partnerships are welcome to apply. Any new local authority wanting to join the programme should contact the relevant regional team who will provide support and advice.

The second round of S&CB funding invites further S&CB plots to come forward for support. The fund’s eligibility criteria has expanded and we are also inviting MCAs (Mayoral Combined Authorities) and their constituent local authorities to apply under this round.

One Public Estate

OPE is an established national programme, with over 850 projects, involving 97 per cent of local authorities in England, 13 government departments, as well as local public sector partners such as emergency services and health organisations. Since its establishment in 2013 the programme has gone from strength to strength, supporting public sector partners to generate c.£461 million in capital receipts, saving taxpayers c.£100 million in running costs, helping create over 32,000 new jobs and releasing land for over 20,000 new homes.

Our 72 local OPE partnerships work together to identify greater opportunities for collaboration to meet local and national priorities. Our partnerships cover combined authority, sub-regional and local authority areas. They are united by a common goal to create greater value out of their combined public estate through shared spaces, joined up services and releasing surplus assets.

To find out more about OPE and LRF projects funded through the joint programme, including case studies of successful projects, visit our One Public Estate webpage.

OPE has shown how early stage support, using the public estate as a catalyst for change and investigating opportunities to collaborate across the public sector can deliver successful outcomes. OPE adds value by supporting early stage projects which otherwise may not come forward, or by accelerating delivery of outcomes.

In 2017, the OPE programme implemented a funding model that included a portion of sustainable grant, enabling the recycling of some awards back into the programme. Since then, OPE has distributed £8.3 million in sustainable grants and has continued to successfully recycle grants into new and innovative projects delivered by OPE partnerships.

With well-established partnerships in place across England, the programme is now looking to reinvest a greater proportion of funding to support more projects to come forward.

75 per cent of available OPE9 funding will be awarded as Sustainable Grants, ensuring that - where projects are successful - funding can be recycled back into the programme. The point at which partnerships will be expected to contribute back to the programme will be determined by relevant project milestones, such as a disposal, the end of a lease term, or a co-location. Where projects are not successful and the relevant milestone is not met, the Sustainable Grant will not be expected to be recycled back into the programme.

OPE recognises the investment that project owners and partners make themselves over the project lifecycle. This often includes project management, match-funding, and/or capital funding. Partnerships are asked to include an outline of the investment being made in the early stages of any project within their application.

Our offer

This will be OPE’s ninth application round. Our core OPE ethos remains – a locally led programme, bringing national and local public sector partners together to address shared priorities through collaboration.

As well as funding, we provide dedicated support from OPE regional teams to:

  • broker central and local government collaboration
  • advise on delivery and best practice
  • help to develop your partnership and projects
  • unblock barriers and act as honest brokers
  • help champion partnerships, projects and initiatives
  • access to government land and property leads to inform transformation
  • access to regional and national networks of best practice
  • access to a Pool of Experts framework providing specialist expertise
  • access to national public estate mapping software.

More broadly, OPE provides a formal forum for collaboration across a range of policy agendas, with government recognition, participation and support. Our network of public sector professionals work together at local, regional and national levels. We target funding to support projects which contribute to national and local priorities, where that investment and partnership working is essential for delivery.

All eligible public bodies should apply for OPE funding and support through their local OPE partnership.