Government to tackle land hoarding by developers

The housing secretary Sajid Javid has told housing developers that the government “is not going to be your friend” and that they could lose planning permission for land that remained unused or where construction targets were not reached. The news came as part of a range of measures announced by the minister and is part of a review into the housing crisis.

In addition, Javid said that so-called “nimbys” were also to be targeted and that the government is on the side of people who want more homes - not those who are anti-development just for the sake of it. There may also be charges imposed on profits made from land that has increased in value just because it has planning permission.

Javid said that land that could be bought for £25,000 could rise in value to more than £10m simply because planning permission had been achieved. He feels it is right that the government should take a portion of that increase to support local infrastructure and development.

This view has been supported by Sir Oliver Letwin who is conducting a review into barriers that prevent building. He says that a “use it or lose it” policy may be recommended. He points out that there is often a delay between the time the developer is ready to start work and when the final house is built. This is often a number of years.

Similar laws are likely to be used in Scotland that would allow councils to put private land and property up for auction if it is not being used by the owners within three years. The Scottish government is conducting a consultation into the practice of land banking to free up land for new housing. There is potential that the land could sell for a fraction of its actual value.