In recent months, developers and housebuilders have come under fire for Landbanking – purposely sitting on plots of land without developing them – however Land Agent Aston Meed has defended housebuilders and pointed the finger squarely at the country’s planning system.
Recent newspaper reports have claimed that developers in the UK own enough land to create more than 600,000 new homes in Britain, which is four times the total of number of houses built in the country last year.
“Why would houseuilders sit on land when we are in the throes of a building boom following the worst recession in a generation? We deal with all the major developers in the country and they are desperate for land to build on. Any land which comes with planning already in place, the bulldozers very often go in within days of the deal to buy it being completed.
“As well as the likelihood of a hike in interest rates, there is a chance we may have another downturn by the end of the decade. So if I was a developer and had all this land with planning in place, I would be building while the demand was there, while house prices were going up and while interest rates were almost zero. If you aren’t going to build in these current conditions, you never will!”
Planning system flawed
Hesse, like Richard Carr, believes that the country’s planning system is the reason why enough homes aren’t being built and cited the following problems as part of his defence.
- Council planning departments are understaffed and overstretched, making the process slow and laborious
- Presumption in favour of sustainable development is being ignored
- Disharmony in planning departments following large government cuts
Hesse explained further that large affordable housing contributions being demanded by LPAs is the reason why many developers sit on plots of land – as they are simple financially unviable.
Richard Carr heavily supports Hesse’s claims and is a strong believer that development taxes such as CIL and s106 should be removed to encourage developers to go ahead and utilise their land.