COUNCILS MAY PAY PRICE FOR DEVELOPERS SITTING ON LAND
‘Perverse’ punishment planned if approved homes are not built
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.”