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Proposed sell-off of Government land and property could pave the way for thousands of new homes

New property search engine will allow everybody to search the government’s £330 billion property portfolio by town and postcode

The Government is planning to sell off buildings and land it no longer needs which could pave the way for thousands of new homes.

The government owns over £330 billion of land and property and from today communities and businesses will be able to submit applications via an online form to buy sites which they believe are surplus to government requirements and could be put to better use.

"The government is the custodian of the taxpayers’ assets," said Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury. "We certainly should not act as some kind of compulsive hoarder of land and property that could be better used for things like housing and local economic growth.”

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude added: "Of course we will never sell our national treasures such as Downing Street or the British Museum, but there are hundreds of other properties across the country which are underused or lying vacant."

Independent estimates suggest that the public sector holds up to 40 per cent of developable land and around 27 per cent of brown-field land suitable for housing.

As part of the sell-off, a  property search engine along the lines of Zoopla of all government property will be set up covering all real estate from motorway lay-bys to vacant airfields, making it possible to search the government’s property portfolio by town and postcode, as well as maps.

The news follows figures released by Halifax today indicating that house prices in the final three months of 2013 were 1.9 per cent higher than in the previous three months, although prices between October and December 2013 were 7.5% higher than in the same period of 2012.