William Eichler 10 June 2021

MPs call for councils to be given more powers to tackle ‘land banking’

MPs call for councils to be given more powers to tackle ‘land banking’  image

Local authorities should be granted more powers to act where developers are too slow in completing sites they have planning permission for, MPs say.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has called on the Government to revisit its proposals for reforming the planning system, which involves designating local areas as one of three types of development zone: growth, renewal and protected

The committee’s report, published today, says that the MPs are ‘unpersuaded’ that the proposals will produce a cheaper, quicker and more democratic planning system. It also says the proposals lack the ‘necessary detail’.

The committee has also asked for further information on how the Government’s target to build 300,000 homes a year will be achieved.

Local authorities should also be granted more powers to act where developers are too slow in completing sites they have planning permission for, the committee says.

According to the report, councils should be able to levy full council tax charges on incomplete properties if sufficient progress has not been made within 36 months.

Publishing the report, committee chair Clive Betts MP said: ‘The Government’s aim of developing a planning system that enables buildings to be built more quickly and with greater input from local communities is welcome, but it is far from clear how the current proposals will achieve this. The Government’s three areas proposal needs to be reconsidered.

‘We also need much more information about the Government’s target to build 300,000 homes every year – as well as the changes to the housing formula announced last December. It’s all very well having numbers on paper – but we need to know how we get to them in reality.

‘Local authorities also need better options for pushing developers to actually build what they have been given permission for. We have called on the Government to allow local authorities to levy council tax on homes that haven’t been built years after they have been approved.’

Responding to the report, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said: ‘We have not yet published a response to the consultation so these conclusions are speculative.

‘As the report rightly identifies, the planning system is in need of improvement and our reforms will mean a quicker, more efficient and less bureaucratic planning system so we can build more much needed homes across the country.

‘Local people and high quality design will be at the heart of these changes, while protecting our heritage and green spaces.’

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