LGA: housing developers should be fined when works stall

In response to the UK’s housing crisis the Local Government Association (LGA) has demanded that housing developers face fines if they do not succeed in promptly completing building projects once planning permission has been granted.

The LGA has suggested that council tax should be made payable on homes that are not built before planning permission expires.

475,000 homes with planning permission were left uncompleted in 2014-15.

The LGA has pointed out that building had started on more than half of these homes and as such councils can not be held to blame.

It went on to say that the total of unimplemented planning permissions was 381,390 in 2012-13, 443,265 in 2013-14, rising to 475,647 homes in 2014-15.

These figures prove that planning permission is not a barrier to house building, the body that represents councils in England and Wales said.

Peter Box, housing spokesperson for the LGA, said:

“To tackle the new homes backlog and to get Britain building again, councils must have the power to invest in building new homes and to force developers to build homes more quickly.

"Councils must be given a leading role to tackle our growing construction skills shortage, which the industry says is one of the greatest barriers to building."

John Stewart of the Home Builders Federation dismissed the LGA’s claims saying that "speeding up the rate at which permissions are granted" was one of the keys to "significant, sustainable" increases in house-building.

"Too many sites are stuck in the planning system, with an estimated 150,000 plots awaiting full sign-off by local authorities,"

he added.

He also rejected the notion that developers were guilty of ‘land banking’ or stalling developments so as to hold on to land in order for its value to increase.

The Department for Communities and Local Government added its voice to the debate with a spokesperson saying there had been “a 25% increase in the number of new homes delivered over the past year alone,” adding that the government has “got Britain building again”.

"Alongside this we're working closely with developers to ensure [Britain] has the skills it needs - and saw 18,000 building apprenticeships started in 2014,"

the spokesperson added.

"We're also directly commissioning thousands of new affordable homes and recently doubled the housing budget."