Labour threatens ‘hoarding’ house builders

Housebuilders could be forced to build on land they are sitting on, or face fines – under new plans by Labour.

In a speech on Saturday, Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, will announce potential plans to give councils more powers to penalise firms that do not proceed with building projects, despite having planning permission.

Labour believes that firms are "sitting on land" as it gains value, and that they should “use it or lose it” – in a practice known as landbanking.

Milliband will call for more housing to be built across the country but the priority he will say, should be to develop land that already has planning permission.

He also believes that the lack of housebuilding cannot be blamed on local councils, with planning permission already granted for over 400,000 homes across the country.

In cases of landbanking, Miliband also believes Councils should be given “compulsory purchase” powers to buy back sites that lie empty for years.

The government has dismissed the plan, insisting rules that are already in place encourage builders to start work.

Planning minister Nick Boles said: "Most normal planning permissions already expire after a three-year period and councils don't have to renew them – confiscating any land from development will not help build a single house.

He added: "We're already incentivising developers to build 170,000 affordable new homes for hard-working people by getting mortgage lending flowing again; using our Getting Britain Building scheme; unlocking development on stalled sites and renegotiating planning permission for sites that weren't previously commercially viable to build on.”

The idea has been greeted with criticism from developers and house builders who believe that the focus should be on incentivising rather than penalising.

Assad Maqbool Partner at Trowers & Hamlins law firm explains how developers have a duty beyond just delivering new properties, and that they must consider the sale value of the land and the “economic value that will be gained by the area as a whole from the regeneration.”

He said:“Commercial developers have a duty to their investors and shareholders to make decisions based on their own commercial interests – and do not have the same responsibility that the Government has to resolve housing shortages.”

Adding that in most cases, “as soon as it is in a developer's commercial interest to develop land, they will do so."

He also believes that going forward: “public sector bodies that do own land that could be redeveloped should be looking at entering into development agreements with private developers on terms that will be commercially viable for the developer.”

Your News

If you've got a story that would be of interest to Builder & Engineer readers, send us an email


2017-05-31 13:33

The rate of Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) will rise by two per cent on June 1 to 12 per cent on all non-exempt transactions. Martin Bennison, managing director at construction finance firm Ultimate Finance, explains what this means for UK construction companies.

2017-05-25 08:41

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is growing in popularity and is now mandatory for centrally funded public-sector projects. Experts and the curious are gathering more and more frequently at dedicated congresses, exhibitions and workshops. Many people are now asking: Where does the UK stand on the issue of BIM and the digitisation of the construction industry?

2017-05-10 10:47

Opening site doors to more females is vital to plugging the construction skills gap, reports Claire Cameron

THE construction industry continues to be plagued by a well-documented skills gap with some suggesting the shortage could get worse before it gets better.

2017-05-08 14:27

If you work on a building site, are self-employed or have a zero-hours contract, you might be surprised to know you work in the ”gig economy”. This is the economy characterised by temporary work and irregular hours, pay and working conditions.

2017-03-29 10:31

Jeremy Gould, VP sales Europe, TomTom Telematics, discusses how technological developments in vehicle telematics have opened up new workflow management possibilities for the construction industry

2017-03-21 09:31

With the demand of oil increasing, it’s estimated that the Earth will reach its full capacity for oil consumption at some point within the next 20 years. This is despite the production of oil decreasing, and the construction industry is no exception to this, reports Niftylift.

2017-03-17 10:55

With construction firms leading the way in drone technology, Claire Cameron takes a closer look at how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be used onsite

2017-03-07 16:20

While the physical safety of workers is prioritised on construction sites, mental health is often overlooked, reports Claire Cameron

Free E-newsletter Sign-Up

Sign up for our free e-newsletter

Looking for a company or service?