Following the Mayor of London's intervention in a planning decision in Hounslow last week, Theresa May is now proposing changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to release more land for development.
Her comments directly attack the practice of landbanking - she indicates that Councils will have to take into account factors such as a developer's previous build-rate into account when deciding whether to grant planning permission.
Our Housing Inquiry shows that the number of new homes that do not start construction or complete within three years of receiving planning permission has grown, with the attrition rate increasing from 33% in 2016 to 46% in 2017. Of the 55,000 homes granted planning permission in 2014, around 30,000 were built or under construction by the end of 2017. https://www.grantthornton.co.uk/en/insights/london-housing-permissions-and-completions-still-too-low
However, more is clearly needed and May's comments will be welcome to a younger generation dreaming of getting on the housing ladder.
In the Spring Budget, the Government stopped short of any tax measures to discourage landbanking - compared to Ireland, where the Budget introduced levies for vacant land. However, the Government did promise to issue a consultation and there was a clear expectation that the housebuilding industry would change behaviours. These recent comments make it clear that the Government is serious about getting houses built, and that these changes will be about planning policy for the time being, rather than tax.
The prime minister is expected to outline changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to release more land for development and to remove planning powers from councils that miss their goals and give them to an independent inspector.