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LPAs need more controls over land banking

Published: Thursday, 11th June 2015

Local authorities need new measures including “use it or lose it” powers to accelerate the amount of new housing in the right places according to countryside lobby group.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has also urged the use of reformed Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) to acquire land suitable for housing at existing use value.

Another proposal from the group would mean authorities could levy council tax on housing that is unfinished two years after the granting of planning permission.

These recommendations are outlined in a new research paper from CPRE. The paper, Getting Houses Built, argued that the current focus on profitability within the current house building sector, dominated by a small number of volume builders, was dictating supply but not meeting need.

The paper said that this focus had adversely affected the location and build-out rates of new housing. The paper states: “Greenfield land is being targeted for its ease and lower risk, while suitable brown field land nearby remains unused and too few affordable homes are being built.”

The paper highlighted that the nine largest volume house builders have long-term strategic land banks of 314,000 housing plots.

CPRE has acknowledged that private developers have a duty to their shareholders over national housing targets, but insisted the “figure indicates the need to reform the current system to accelerate the supply of homes in the right places”.

Luke Burroughs, the author of the paper and policy advisor at CPRE, said: “Improving transparency in land ownership and viability assessments would greatly boost residential development. Local authorities can also help small-scale builders develop suitable smaller sites by doing more to identify and earmark these sites for development.”

View the paper on the CPRE website

Roger Milne