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White Paper delayed as Javid ups the ante on land-banking

Published: Thursday, 1st December 2016

Communities secretary reveals that the White Paper which will set out the government's future housing strategy will be delayed until next year…

The timing for the publication of the government’s Housing White Paper has slipped. It was thought that the document may possibly be published in November and certainly before the Christmas and New Year break. However it will now be published in January.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid revealed the slippage during oral questions to his department in the Commons on Monday.

He insisted that the policy document “which is due to be published in January will set out a range of radical plans to boost the housing supply”.

Last week the Secretary of State told the annual lunch of the National Housing Building Council that “I’m not talking about small tweaks, building a thousand homes here or a thousand homes there.

“I’m talking about major, long-lasting reform that will carry on delivering homes well after I’ve left office.”

Significantly he also used the speech to highlight the issue of land banking, plainly an issue which will be covered by the White Paper.

He told the industry: “I cannot look the other way when I see land-banking holding up development. Some of you have conceded to me, in private, that it happens. Some of you still deny it’s an issue.

“But there’s clearly something going on. The number of plots approved for residential development each year rose by 59 per cent between 2011 and 2015.

But the number of building starts rose by just 29 per cent in 2012, permission was granted for more than 195,000 homes. Yet three years later, 40,000 of those homes still hadn’t been completed. That’s a town the size of Hartlepool, just waiting to be built.”

He added: “If you own land and you don’t want to build on it, well, that’s your decision to make. But you can’t expect me and the government to go out on a limb and not see a return.

“If you want us to pull out all the stops to create the sites, you have to build on them. The permission gap has to come down. The build-out rate has to go up.”

Read more information

Read the transcript of Sajid Javid’s speech at the National House Building Council annual lunch

Roger Milne