Housing Minister: "Councils could be stripped of planning powers if too few homes are built"

Housing Minister: "Councils could be stripped of planning powers if too few homes are built"
Housing Minister: "Councils could be stripped of planning powers if too few homes are built"

Yet more land across Bucks could be turned into housing, it is feared, after the government announced it will enforce new building targets for councils.

Space for “far more homes” than is currently planned for will need to be set aside in the area.

Housing Secretary, Sajid Javid, warned councils could be stripped of planning powers if too few homes are being built – as new planning rules to tackle the country’s “housing crisis” were unveiled this morning.

The revelation could have “significant implications” for towns and villages in Buckinghamshire, according to Bucks County Council (BCC) leader councillor Martin Tett, as even more houses will be required across the county than those already factored in to the Local Plan.

The new rules will also crackdown on developers who “sit on” land after planning permission is granted, rather than building the homes promised, in order to increase profit.

Cllr Tett said there are “hundreds and thousands” of permissions granted across the country that have not yet been implemented.

Addressing BCC’s cabinet, Cllr Tett, said: “Too many developers, quite frankly, are sitting on those permissions rather than building them – because it is not in their interest to actually build those houses, because they want to keep those prices high.

“That is about maximising their profit, but it doesn’t play into the social agenda of getting those houses built.

“Of course there is the issue of the number of affordable houses that are built, and too many developers are using the viability assessment to argue they cannot afford to build the target number of affordable housing, and that is usually defined as 60 to 80 per cent of market rent.

“Sometimes they get planning permission on the basis of meeting certain quotas of affordable housing, and come back and subsequently and say ‘I know we said we would do it, but actually now the numbers have changed a bit so we can’t afford to.’”

The new planning policy framework will include new rules to determine how many homes councils must build – taking into account local house prices and wages.

Cllr Tett added the local authorities will be looking to the government for capital funding for the necessary infrastructure, such as roads and schools, in order to facilitate the homes.

He said: “I think it is important to flag this major issue today, the county council is well aware of it and our colleagues in the local planning authority will be on the front line.”