Prime minister asks house builders to do their “duty”

Theresa May has, this week, made an important speech urging property developers to do their “duty” to Britain and do their bit to build the quantities of homes that the country needs. If they fail to do so, she warns there will be penalties to pay. The government also pledges to rewrite planning laws to help people get on the property ladder.

The speech which was made to the National Planning Conference pointed out that the government will have a much tougher approach to local councils by setting targets for how many homes each authority needs to build and that affordable homes must be provided for key workers as a priority. She also spoke about the disparity between those who could never afford to buy a home and those who had family wealth to help them - she said that this exacerbated divisions between generations. This issue was also made worse by high rents and how this related to a lack of social mobility.

The changes to the National Planning Policy Framework were also outlined and included plans to ensure that 10% of homes on major sites were classified as affordable, that builders were more open about their affordable homes plan during the planning permission stage, that councils needed to adopt a nationwide standard on housing need and that planning permission should be revoked if not used after two years. To ensure that certain areas remained protected, the Prime Minister stated that ancient woodlands and aged trees would receive specific protection.

The Local Government Association have said that it is wrong to blame councils for homes that are not being built despite planning permission being granted. They say that developers need to get on with building and councils need greater power to act where building has stalled.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Economic Affairs pointed out that the government is only tinkering at the edges of what is actually needed and that the speech overlooked the role of central government.