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Column 22nd May 2019

Why are 30 percent of approved homes never even built?

The Annual General Meeting of the Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG) took place last Wednesday.

After the formal meeting had been concluded, we had a presentation from Dr Quintin Bradley who is a Senior Lecturer in Planning and Housing and leads research into community planning and its impact on housing supply.

Dr Bradley is critical of the current planning system and is researching the opposition being raised by community groups around the country.

He has argued that groups like WaGCG are not anti-development but pro-planning, defenders of an effective and democratic planning system.

In his presentation he pointed out that statistics show that 321,000 homes were approved to be built in 2017, yet only 164,000 homes were built.

The remainder joined a backlog of 851,000 homes with planning permission.

Between 30% - 50% of homes with permission never get built.

He also pointed out that since 1900 commercial developers have never built more than 200,000 homes per year.

In 1968, a total of about 350,000 homes were built but about 150,000 were council houses and no council houses have been built since the early 1990’s.

So it seems unlikely that 300,000 homes will be built in any year unless funding is provided by councils and/or the government.

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the average agricultural land value in England was £21,000 per hectare in 2014.

After planning permission has been given, the value of residential land was estimated as £1,958,000 per hectare excluding London.

If (or when) the homes are built, this figure of nearly £2 million per hectare is then shared between the landowner and the developer.

Dr Bradley pointed out that even if the homes aren’t built, the owners/ developers can use this land value to obtain loans for other developments.

If they don’t build, then the District Council won’t meet the five year building target required by the Government and developers will be able to obtain even more planning consents.

It’s almost as though the developers and landowners wrote the rules to ensure that they make maximum profit from the process.

Dr Bradley argues that the current planning system is stacked against communities and in favour of land owners and developers, and that groups like our campaign group are simply trying to reclaim the ability to plan the homes and infrastructure for our own community.

We aren’t NIMBYs but citizens who care about the places where we live.


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