Will ‘greedy’ developers be penalised?

PUBLISHED: 13:28 16 February 2018 | UPDATED: 13:28 16 February 2018

What will be the punishment for 'greedy' developers, like the one pictured here, asks Joe Pattinson.

What will be the punishment for 'greedy' developers, like the one pictured here, asks Joe Pattinson.

Joe Pattinson, from Newbury New Homes, asks whether greedy developers will be penalised?

Joe Pattinson, Newbury New HomesJoe Pattinson, Newbury New Homes

The headline in the Times recently tells us that “Greedy house developers face losing right to build.” So what does The Times suggest will be the punishment for Greedy Developers – well they will “lose planning permission on unused land?”

I just wondered if anyone has sat down with a cup of tea and thought that through? Explain in less than 100 words how removing planning permissions will speed up house building! The major problem within the industry, as anyone who works in it knows all too well, is that it can take years and cost a fortune to get a planning permission in the first place.

I recall in 2004 asking a city council for an appointment to discuss a site that my employer wanted to buy and develop. The earliest appointment I could get to meet with planners was in nine weeks time. I could detail many examples with various local authorities whose planning departments move slower than tectonic plates, but you would probably fall asleep. I should say at this point (In case any of them pick up this paper) that all of the local authorities in Norfolk are absolutely wonderful!

Government policy this century has been to go for larger and larger sites. It is quite easy for everyone to understand (with maybe one or two notable exceptions) that, outside of some city centres, larger sites take longer to sell. When developers are inputting data into their viability programmes they factor in both a build and sales programme. It is not a state secret to say that an average sales rate of 1 house a week is the norm on many sites, in many regions. So if you have a site of 1,000 houses even my friends at The Times can work out that you will be holding quite a few plots that will be programmed to sell over a few years.

So, The Times tells us, there is to be a review into land banking, which seems as pointless as a batsman asking for a review when their middle stump has just been knocked out of the ground. “There is definitely some hoarding of land by developers” Mr Javid said. He should remember that like shares and Bitcoins land can go down as well as up!

The Times article told us that permission was granted for 1,725,382 plots between 2006 and 2014, but they go on to complain, “only 816,450 had been completed after three years”.

Ignoring the fact that four people were needed to write this gobbledegook that works out to be average annual consents granted of 215,672 whilst building 272,150 a year or 56,378 units per year more than were granted planning. Shelter, The Times says, “revealed” that developers are sitting on almost a million housing plots. Hardly a revelation when all the figures are in the public domain, which makes it quite surprising that they have got them wrong.

I will be dropping a line today to a number of MPs asking them to let me have some information about local “greedy developers” who they have discovered sitting on land waiting for it to go up. I simply don’t believe that builders are sitting on a million plots waiting for them to go up will let you know how what responses I get.

That we need to spend somewhere between £3 billion and £6 billion to do up The Houses of Parliament, a building that is less than 150 years old, tells us how well the government looks after its own estate.

You can contact Joe Pattinson at Newbury New Homes, sponsors of this column, on 01603 520000


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