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dryrot

An Open Letter from a Berkshire Parish Council on Gov. Housing Policy

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Hi

This is an open letter from Barkham Parish Council, circulated to the Government and other councils in the area (and for publication, it's an open letter). I would agree... Locally Wokingham Borough Council has agreed on 13k houses, but they are not being built. 

"Government housing policy in disarray

We believe that this Government, like many who have gone before, has a Housing Policy which is in total disarray. Ministers are still bleating that the problem is the planning system, in spite of their own figures showing that planning approvals for new housing are far outstripping the number of houses being built and has been for the last ten years.  All the talk by Sajid Javid about pulling up the ladder and nimbys are at the same time ill informed and offensive, a clear vote loser in normally Conservative areas.  At the same time, the current policies are failing to deliver low cost housing for first time buyers, meaning that the government is unlikely to attract younger people, whose votes they are desperately seeking.

There are a number of reasons why house building is slow.  The massive uplift in value of land with planning permission means that it is treated as an investment opportunity, with developers slowing build rates if house prices show signs of weakening.  Additionally there is a shortage of skilled workers which makes it difficult to increase the build rate even when demand is strong. 

In our Borough alone, planning approvals have been granted which should provide some 13,000 dwellings. Where are they?  In the developers’ land bank.  Meanwhile, the same developers and their advisors continue to acquire and put forward new applications for housing in totally inappropriate and unsustainable locations, often without any infrastructure to support them.

Expansion of the Help to Buy programme sounds like a step in the right direction.  Sadly it is the complete reverse and is the house purchase equivalent of housing benefit.  The effect of both schemes is to pump money into the housing market, helping to keep prices high and beyond the reach of first time buyers.

Current government housing allows land owners and their advisors to make money out of land, while failing to address the key issues of providing the right kind of houses in the right places at the right prices.

The government instead should be exploring ways for local authorities to purchase land cheaply, with or without compulsory purchase intervention.  This would allow local authorities to contract builders to build within predetermined time scales.  They will be forced to consider more efficient ways of building such as modular construction. Meanwhile landowners would still be able to make a profit, but not the jackpots they currently receive.

Developers do not like affordable housing and complain that they cannot make a profit and lose money on the 35% affordable housing they are required to provide. If this is truly the case, the land designated for this purpose should appropriated by the authority to allow them to build their own housing stock, for the less well off in our borough.

The Department for Communities should therefore guide Planning Inspectors to allow responsible authorities such as Wokingham to continue with their strategy of delivering housing according to its sustainable plan, without the additional burden of fighting unreasonable planning appeals that rely on the fiction that the Borough has not provided adequate land for development.

Chairman of Barkham Parish Council"

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1 hour ago, DiscoDave said:

Spectacular. The Gladman application was initially turned down by the Borough and now the Borough are citing Gladman as one of the reasons they're falling short of their target. 

I actually live in Wokingham Town so this is all very interesting. I know they're mean to be building 1,800 south of the railway line within the next four years and improving the road infrastructure so that we end up with effectively a town bypass for accessing the Copper Beech Roundabout. 

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6 hours ago, dryrot said:

 

The Department for Communities should therefore guide Planning Inspectors to allow responsible authorities such as Wokingham to continue with their strategy of delivering housing according to its sustainable plan, without the additional burden of fighting unreasonable planning appeals that rely on the fiction that the Borough has not provided adequate land for development.

 

Right there is the substance of the whole letter.  Several paragraphs of appearing pro-housebuilding and then at the end:

 

'can we please be exempt from the planning appeals of housebuilders'

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19 minutes ago, Oki said:

Right there is the substance of the whole letter.  Several paragraphs of appearing pro-housebuilding and then at the end:

'can we please be exempt from the planning appeals of housebuilders'

Except that's not at all the substance of the whole letter.

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1 hour ago, Oki said:

Right there is the substance of the whole letter.  Several paragraphs of appearing pro-housebuilding and then at the end:

 

'can we please be exempt from the planning appeals of housebuilders'

Not quite. Housebuilders get permission, then Don't Build. They then get further permissions as the house hav;en't been built... We end up with no houses and no planned developments.

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From the linked article:

 

Each year the council falls short of its house building target, a 20 per cent penalty is added to the following year’s target. 

*cut*

“We are saying change the law so housing that has been given planning permission is taken into account,” he continued.

-----

They want the issue of permission to be the equivalent to actual housebuilding for the purpose of targets. so  they can still meet their housebuilding targets without a single house being built. They don't want to change the status quo they just don't want to be penalised for it.

On the bright side they are in favour of building crappy council houses for their own exclusive use housing the people they are legally obliged to house.

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A land value tax would fix so much of this. Once planning permission has been granted the land value spikes and so does the tax payable. Developers have an incentive to get the houses built and sold because a field of scrub won't bring in an income stream high enough to pay the tax.

The whole 'land banking' phenomenon is entirely down to bad government policy. If government taxed land properly developers wouldn't do it.

Edited by Dorkins

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59 minutes ago, Dorkins said:

A land value tax would fix so much of this. Once planning permission has been granted the land value spikes and so does the tax payable. Developers have an incentive to get the houses built and sold because a field of scrub won't bring in an income stream high enough to pay the tax.

The whole 'land banking' phenomenon is entirely down to bad government policy. If government taxed land properly developers wouldn't do it.

Agreed, it would be a simple and popular fix.

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  • 292 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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