Prime minister's warning to local councils to approve more homes faces backlash

06 March, 2018, 02:12 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • Housebuilders are thought to be sitting on about a million housing plots

Theresa May has been accused of scapegoating councils for her own failure to tackle Britain's housing crisis after she unveiled proposals to get the country building again.

The new proposals on developer contributions includes plans for the introduction of a new strategic infrastructure tariff which local authorities would be able to levy to help pay for new infrastructure needed to address increases in population stemming from the building of new homes.

Prime Minister Theresa May will urge developers to "do their duty" and build more United Kingdom houses, threatening that those who delay construction after winning planning permission will find it harder to get permits in the future.

In a speech at a national planning conference in London the Prime Minister highlighted the "perverse incentive" in the bonus structure of some house builders which does not encourage them to build homes that are affordable.

She said the country needed more affordable homes for first-time buyers, for NHS staff and to rent.

"The result is a vicious circle from which most people can only escape with help from the Bank of Mum and Dad".

The new rules will also aim to see infrastructure to support development, as she recognised local people often opposed these because "they're anxious their village or town simply won't be able to bear the weight of hundreds of new arrivals".

Commenting on May's speech today, Porter said: "The truth is that councils are now approving nine in 10 planning applications, which shows that the planning system is working well and is not a barrier to building".

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Its chair, Gary Porter, believes her criticism is somewhat unwarranted and highlighted the fact that over the past 12 months, councils had granted almost twice as many planning permissions as the number of new homes that had been completed. But Mrs May will also pledge to protect the Green Belt, land where building is forbidden.

Theresa May will warn developers they risk losing bids for planning permission if they have a record of failing to build houses.

The Labour party said that the Prime Minister had proposed only "feeble" measures to address the housing crisis. While progress has been made in building more homes with over 217,000 new homes built previous year, May said that for decades there has been a failure to build enough of the right homes in the right places.

It's nearly as if the PM has realised that three decades of Tory policy - against building new council homes and giving over house building entirely to the private sector - might not in fact have been the best idea. 'For too long the developers charged with building our homes have held us to ransom by land banking, ' said Russel Quirk, chief executive officer of hybrid estate agent eMoov.

More freedom will be given to local authorities to make the most of existing brownfield land to build homes that maximise density.

But May wants 300,000 homes to be built per year - well above the 2017 level of around 217,000.

But he did also admit that fighting against new homes being built can be justified, saying "it might be an environmental reason, it might be something else".

And further Tory legislation in 2013 directly barred cash strapped councils from borrowing money to build council homes.

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