COUN­CILS MAY PAY PRICE FOR DE­VEL­OP­ERS SIT­TING ON LAND

‘Per­verse’ pun­ish­ment planned if ap­proved homes are not built

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by JAS­MINE RAPSON Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

PLANS to pun­ish coun­cils if de­vel­op­ers fail to build homes have been branded “per­verse” by a coun­cil chief.

In March, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced it will en­force new plan­ning tar­gets for coun­cils – prompt­ing fears even more land could be tar­geted across the county for hous­ing.

The new rules also aim to crack­down on de­vel­op­ers who sit on land af­ter plan­ning per­mis­sion is granted, rather than build the homes, in or­der to in­crease profit.

Speak­ing at a meet­ing of Bucks County Coun­cil’s (BCC) trans­port, en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­ni­ties se­lect com­mit­tee this morn­ing on Tues­day, coun­cil leader Martin Tett said he is still wait­ing for de­tails of the new poli­cies to be con­firmed.

He went on to slam pro­pos­als to force coun­cils to ear­mark even more land for homes if de­vel­op­ers fail to start work on ap­proved de­vel­op­ments.

The leader said: “What the gov­ern­ment wants to see is not just the houses given per­mis­sion, but they want to see the houses ac­tu­ally built, so the gov­ern­ment’s think­ing is to pe­nalise the coun­cil if pri­vate de­vel­op­ers, who have been given per­mis­sion, do not build the houses.

“I will say quite can­didly I find that very per­verse – be­cause the coun­cils don’t ac­tu­ally build the houses, the de­vel­op­ers do.

“It is a very per­verse thing, but the in­ten­tion is, if the houses aren’t be­ing built, to force the lo­cal coun­cils to po­ten­tially ear­mark ad­di­tional land and bring that for­ward for devel­op­ment in ex­cess of those mo­tions that have al­ready been granted.”

Planned changes to the way gov­ern­ment as­sesses hous­ing need in dif­fer­ent ar­eas will also mean a “very sub­stan­tial in­crease” in the num­ber of homes Bucks coun­cils will have to build.

Thou­sands of homes are al­ready set to be built over the next 15 years – with 9,150 in­cluded in Chiltern and South Bucks’ Lo­cal Plan, while Wy­combe Dis­trict Coun­cil needs to al­lo­cate space for 10,925.

How­ever, Aylesbury Vale is set to bear the brunt of the new plan­ning laws, ac­cord­ing to Cllr Tett, as the coun­cil has al­ready agreed to al­lo­cate space for an ex­tra 2,000 homes that can­not be pro­vided in Wy­combe due to AONB con­straints.

Vice-chair­man of the com­mit­tee, Steve Bowles, said de­vel­op­ers should lose their plan­ning per­mis­sion if they do not built the homes within two years.

He said: “They need to change their plan­ning ap­proval mech­a­nisms to hous­ing de­vel­op­ers to say if you haven’t made a start on site within, say, two years or 18 months your plan­ning per­mis­sion will be with­drawn. To me that will be the fair ap­proach. We all know why de­vel­op­ers don’t do it, they land-bank be­cause if they flood the mar­ket it af­fects the sale prices.”

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