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the housing crisis - PM tells developers to step up and do their bit

6 March 2018

The Prime Minister (PM) has announced plans to target developers who are sitting on planning permissions in a bid to address the ongoing housing crisis. The PM stated that around 80 proposals set out in last year's housing white paper will now be implemented, including giving councils greater powers to consider a developer’s previous rate of house building when deciding whether or not to grant planning permission. The PM also highlighted the ‘perverse incentive’ of an industry bonus structure which rewards profit and not amount of homes built.

Whilst the speech was low on detail, it was significant from the point of view of looking at developers and not just councils for the reason that homes were not being built at the desired rate (and a change in tack from the comments of the Housing Secretary at the weekend). The change in focus will be welcomed by councils who have previously been targeted in the debate on housing, however the question remains how effective these changes will be in increasing the number of new houses actually built. For example, how will a council assess the performance of developers? In our experience there can be many reasons for delay in building once planning permission is granted, ranging from difficulties as between different land owners, unexpected land conditions such as contamination or archaeology through to infrastructure delays/inadequacy and a lack of skilled labour.

We have heard many statements of intent from the government; the real test is whether this intent significantly increases the number of homes built.

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