Miliboy really is a tool

According to the Local Government Association, there are 400,000 plots, or houses, with planning permission that have not been built. But experts say of these, at least half are under construction, leaving around 200,000 – or just a year’s supply, under Miliband’s target.

Given that it takes longer than one year to get planning permission then there just isn’t some vast set of permited but unbuilt sites that he can nationalise.

The problem is exactly where it always has been. Not enough chittys for development are issued each year. Thus it is the planning permission system that needs reform. And this story of people hoarding developable land is just what it always has been, a popular delusion. But then that’s how policy is developed these days, on the basis of delusions that people believe to be true, not the facts.

9 thoughts on “Miliboy really is a tool”

  1. Its going to be amusing if this little scheme of Eds comes to pass in my neck of the woods. My local borough council is currently sitting on hundreds of acres of land that has planning permission for an massive urban extension to the town. But because they f*cked up royally they can’t make it pay, and nothing is happening. The scheme was mooted years ago well prior to the crash. And as luck would have it the council already owned the vast majority of the land in the proposed scheme, land it had inherited from the county council when the town council became a unitary authority. So the bigwigs in the council got together and came up with a cunning plan. They could see the (then huge) amounts development land was making (north of £1m/acre in pre-crash days) and fancied a bit of the action for themselves. So instead of just selling the land to a developer and letting them pay for all the roads and infrastructure (and take all the risks), they decided to put that risk on the taxpayers back, borrow money and build all the infrastructure themselves and sell the serviced land direct to house builders. Great idea, until the crash obliterated the value of serviced housing plots. So now the council is sat on hundreds of acres of land, with ghost roads snaking their way around open green space, that no builder wants, because the amount the council need to recoup is too large for current land values. And just down the road, on the part of the urban extension that was in private land ownership, the houses have all been built, as the private land owners sold out straight away on the grant of the planning permission, and the developers have managed to make it pay slowly over the last 6 /7 years.

    So there you have it – the private sector getting on and building the houses, the State sitting on the land because its made a complete hash of developing it. Does Eds proposal have any provision for Local Authorities to expropriate their own land I wonder?

  2. But how many of the permissions (either granted, or would be if the system were fixed) are for places people want to live?

    You can build what you like in a field outside Runcorn.. it won’t help someone on less than £80k get a 2-bed flat in zone 2.

  3. I’m absolutely not ruling out planning incompetence (thanks Jim!), but it amazes me how no one’s exploring the idea that perhaps there’s now a revealed preference to lose no more land to houses? Sure, I know, only a couple of percent of UK surface is built on, brownfield sites, etc, etc. I’m not saying it’s true, but curious that it’s just not talked about.

    There is a point to be reached where you can’t commute into a big urban center, and still go stomping in the woods for an afternoon. Or lose the villages and market towns to the sprawl.

    Niels.

  4. Not sure exactly how this works, but could unscrupulous bastards at a council, who fancy a nice spot of land for their own ends, frustrate a developer with planning shennanigans and once the 12 months is up grab the land?

  5. My ward has a large undeveloped site with permission. While talking with a major housebuilder about another development (250 houses) I aksed why it wasn’t being developed.

    I had expected that the response would be about additional costs (it’s a brownfield – former textile mill – site) need to develop but it wasn’t – the issue was the market, the developer was clear that there wasn’t a market for housing in that village

    Housing crisis?

  6. You can build what you like in a field outside Runcorn

    ah yes, the ‘M6 Toll Road’ problem. Namely that no one really gives a shit if you tarmac over vast quantities of the west midlands, but unless there’s anything to drive to round there they won’t bother. Which is why no one really uses it.

  7. Just a thought;

    I wonder how Ed will be able to frame law that will allow him to expropriate the land he wants, but not touch land he doesn’t. As I see it, he is going to be faced, whatever form of words the drafter uses, with lots of land with planning permission but which remains undeveloped because it turns out nobody wants to live there. Or alternatively he may be faced with a market price that suits the “seller”, i.e. the non-developer, more than the “buyer”, i.e. the taxpayer.

    Either way, turning the lights out might be a very good idea, making it harder to see him piss our money up the wall.

  8. @Ironman: one suspects that such a ‘use it or lose it’ rule could suit some developers down to the ground. Got a site that’s a dog for some reason, and is proving hard to sell the houses already built? Just stop building on it for a few years, meanwhile sell a few plots to another developer at an inflated price, and do the same for them somewhere else on a site they want to get rid of. Suddenly you have a relevant ‘market price’ to value the unwanted plots at, and the State picks up the tab.

    Never underestimate the ability of the State to get the worse deal possible for the taxpayer. Developers will run rings around them. They’ll be left holding all the developers ‘mistakes’ that they’ve been trying to offload on someone for ages.

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