CoVoP comments on “land banking”

Just the other day an interesting email popped into the Inbox from Community Voice on Planning. They have concerns regarding the mis-match between planning permissions awarded for new housing and the annual delivery of new houses by the large house builders and CoVoP’s comments ran as follows:

Property Week reported in September that Housing & Planning minister Gavin Barwell had said that he wanted to crack down on developers that had a “habit of putting in planning applications, getting permission, getting uplift in their land value and then not doing anything”. The Local Government Association estimates there are a record 475,000 homes which have been given planning permission but have yet to be built.

Then last week (7 November 2016) there was an interesting programme on Channel 4 about the way in which developers are land banking housing permissions. Now Stewart Baseley, the Chairman of the Home Builders Federation has written to national newspapers [behind pay firewall] to claim that builders are not holding onto permissions. Meanwhile, on the BBC (Monday 14 November 2016), a representative of the Berkeley Group of developers has claimed that “there is not enough land being released and property taxes are too high “.

ITV News, (16 November 2016) reported that the Redfern investigation has – remarkably, some will argue – found no link between the levels of housing supply and home ownership. Instead it argues the biggest reason first-time buyers are struggling like never before is financial. They believe that more government investment is needed.

These developers are crying all the way to the bank. The profits of the main ten development companies have been stratospheric this year, yet house-building is still sluggish. The claim that property developers are not land banking is spurious, as any examination of their company accounts, or of Government statistics, where these transactions are noted, would lay bare the lie.

We should like to urge people to write to the Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell, and to the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Goverment, Sajid Javid, to remind them that land banking is part of the problem. This works to the advantage of the developers because they alone can dictate when this land is built on and by keeping supply short they are able to keep prices high and demand even more permissions. We need to refute this misleading information and to persuade the Ministers to amend the ridiculous planning legislation that has allowed this situation to develop. The 5 year land supply calculation must be amended to include all outline permissions granted to enable planning authorities to refuse further permissions on precious green spaces.

You can contact the Ministers through the Department for Communities and Local Government or you can write to your MP and ask them to take your letter to the Minister and to ask for a written reply. You could also ask them to raise a question in the house to either Gavin Barwell MP or Rt. Hon. Sajid Jarvid MP on this very point to request the Government to rectify the situation.

Whilst CoVoP understand that residents’ concerns may be local ones, we urge you to write and to challenge this viewpoint. We shall make no headway against the rapacity of the developers unless we fight our cause at this level across the country.

Please copy your letters to CoVoP so that we can see action being taken.”