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Landbanking - an obstacle to the housing crisis?

PUBLISHED: 09:26 09 April 2018 | UPDATED: 09:26 09 April 2018

BrianAJackson

Developers are currently being criticised for land banking – purchasing land and then not building on it – and not helping to to solve the housing crisis. This may or may not be the case with some of the larger housebuilders, but it is certainly not the policy with smaller players, writes Edward Parker, from Bennett Homes.

Edward Parker, Bennett Homes. Pic: Archant.Edward Parker, Bennett Homes. Pic: Archant.

Perhaps it it worth pointing out some practical reasons why this appears to be the case. With larger sites, it will take a longer time to build out homes as it is difficult to deliver large numbers without jeopardising quality. The official figures for land banking include unfinished plots on active sites which may be an unfair way to present the statistics.

Small and Medium sized building companies (SMEs) such as ours generally cannot afford to land bank and tend to favour smaller developments that are able to be built out more quickly than larger developments.

Part of the problem is the planning process, which is favouring larger sites to deliver the targeted number of new homes. To address this, we welcomed the announcement in the last budget that there would be a 20 per cent small site allocation requirement for all planning departments to help SMEs and speed up the delivery of new homes but we have yet to see this being adopted as formal government policy.

By increasing the percentage of small site allocations, it would attract the smaller housebuilders who could then build out in a shorter timeframe, bringing new homes onto the market.

SMEs also have the advantage of introducing more diversity to the market, offering buyers a broader range of house styles and finishing details.

Our popular Woodlands development at Old Costessey, where we are holding an open day tomorrow, Saturday April 7 is a good example where we can offer buyers a variety of property types and designs.

Buying from a smaller player also has other benefits. From our own feedback at Bennett Homes, we know that customers like dealing with a small, family-run company which helps to make the process of buying their new home an enjoyable one.

You can contact Bennett Homes, sponsors of this column, at www.bennett-homes.co.uk

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