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Bovis Homes boss slams land hoarding claims as ‘nonsense’

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Bovis Homes’ chief executive has dismissed suggestions that housebuilders are sitting on land to benefit from increasing market prices, rather than building new homes

Speaking to the AJ’s sister title Construction News, David Ritchie, chief executive of housebuilder Bovis Homes said: ‘We cannot afford to sit on land.’

Pointing to the average time of three to four years which it takes to build new sites, he said the firm was ‘going as quickly as we can’.

He added it would push through sites as quickly as it could to get into production at the ‘back end of this year’, but that it was a ‘difficult process’, as land is generally in short supply and it takes time to progress from buying a site to obtaining full planning consent.

Previously, Labour leader Ed Miliband had criticised housebuilders for exacerbating the housing crisis by sitting on land.

In an attempt to get more homes built, Labour is considering giving local councils the power to punish developers who sit on land by introducing ‘use it, or lose it’ powers.

Should Labour regain power, developers could face fines or compulsory purchase orders on undeveloped land.

Previous story (21.06.2013)

Miliband: Labour will punish developers who sit on land

Developers could face fines or compulsory purchase orders on undeveloped land as part of new ‘use it or lose it’ powers.

In an attempt to get more homes built, Labour is considering giving local councils power to punish developers which sit on land.

In a speech to Labour’s National Policy Forum, Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to criticise developers for sitting on land with planning permission and that the current housing crisis is being exacerbated by developers hoarding land.

Miliband is also expected to say that should Labour regain power, developers will face fines or compulsory purchase orders on undeveloped land as part of new ‘use it or lose it’ powers.

In the UK, planning permission has been granted for 400,000 new homes which are yet to be built and in London 45 per cent of undeveloped land is held by companies that do not carry out construction work.

The Labour leader will argue that the new housing policy would instantly result in more homes being built.

Miliband will claim the lack of house building cannot be blamed on local councils, saying the latest statistics show 82 per cent of planning applications for major residential applications over 10 units were approved by local authorities.

Planning minister Nick Boles criticised Labour’s ‘incoherent policy’: ‘Labour clearly learnt nothing from its failures in Government as 400,000 homes represents less than two years’ worth of the number of new homes that we need to build. And confiscating any land from development will not help build a single house.

‘We’re already incentivising developers to build 170,000 affordable new homes for hardworking people by getting mortgage lending flowing again; using our Getting Britain Building scheme; unlocking development on stalled sites and renegotiating planning permission for sites that weren’t previously commercially viable to build on - which Labour opposed.’

Peter Stacey, director and head of the residential development sector at Turley Associates, was also sceptical of the proposals. He said: ‘Housebuilders buy land to build homes – they are not land companies.  We act for housebuilders across the country and have yet to see any evidence of land banking.  It is, quite simply, a myth and to tax a myth is bad policy.’

He added: ‘The market is not being artificially constrained by housebuilders. Political inertia at a local level continues to stifle the availability and range of sites needed to meet market demand.  Good sites are developed quickly, poor sites more slowly.”







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