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Cooper promises cash incentive for councils who speed up housebuilding

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A £500 million carrot to encourage councils to speed up housebuilding has been announced by housing minister Yvette Cooper.

The cash will be handed to local councils who produce plans to speed up delivery of new homes, identify suitable sites, and increase housing within set timescales.

It is understood the scheme is specifically aimed at building more homes for young families and first-time buyers within the South East.

Plans to crack down on developers who hoard empty sites - known as land banking - will be outlined in November, according to Cooper.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast News, Cooper explained: 'This money is about extra support for those councils who are already doing their bit - and some of them are really doing a lot of work now to support additional housing - but we know that others really need to do more and that is what this is about.

'For the sake of our sons and daughters, we've got to build more homes. You've got to do it in a proper way that's protecting the green space, that's protecting the countryside, but you can't just put your head in the sand and say this is going to go away. It won't; it's not fair on future generations,' she continued.

British Property Federation residential policy director Ian Fletcher said the cash incentive came as 'no surprise'.

'New sticks are also available through the planning system, though these remain untried or tested and we would hope these would not be needed, as the last thing most developers want is to go through lengthy appeals,' said Fletcher.

'Many councils have already accepted the compelling case that with 1.6 million people on council waiting lists, and supply falling short by 60,000 or so households a year, we need more homes. We hope this will stimulate even more to consider increasing the land they identify for housing development,' he added.

by Richard Waite

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