LETTER: Developers in the driving seat

We continue to see houses built on green field and flood-prone land, with inadequate provision for affordable housing and infrastructure. We might ask how developers get away with that?

Well Local Plans often use house-building targets, based more on population projections – than on supply/demand. So when councils fail to meet their unattainable targets, planning inspectors have free rein to permit speculative development.

Of course developers will only build what they can sell at a profit and they tend to prefer green field to brown field sites.

They can then bank application approvals, until the time is ripe to build, building many (more profitable) larger three and four-bedroom houses.

That is why many thousands of houses have planning approval, but are not being built.

Unlike councils, developers carry no penalty if Local Plan targets are not met.

That and the fact that so many inappropriate applications have been allowed on greenfield and flood prone sites (with inadequate infrastructure funding) shows that developers are in the driving seat. So much for localism!

There are about 1.4 million on UK housing registers and it will take at least 10 years to make up for the housing backlog. So it should be clear that affordable housing needs are not going to be met, unless some publicly owned (or brownfield) land is released, plus extra funding – from accumulated S106 monies.

Since the cost of housing a family in temporary accommodation, can exceed £15,000pa (much higher in some locations) there is clearly a potential business case to get more affordable houses built.

But we will need some bold thinking from councils, to achieve real progress with that. Let’s see councils rise to that challenge.

Roger J Arthur

Melrose Place



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