The UK planning system is driven by a most important requirement placed on each local planning authority. They need to demonstrate there is a five year supply of land in their area at any given time. The local plan specifies the build rate on which this is based. This in turn is partly a reflection of past experience of demand, and partly a planning judgement made by the Council subject to review by an Inspector.

This means that under planning law at any given time the government requires the private sector to “hoard” or sit on a lot of land with planning permission.

I’m sorry? The reason we’ve a 5 year land bank is because the law insists we have a 5 year land bank?

Well doesn’t that just blow the hoarding argument out of the water?

13 thoughts on “You what?”

  1. The Leftards’ hoarding argument is bollocks as we all know.

    However, what Redwood is pointing out is that Councils have to make an estimate of how much land is likely to enter the pipeline int he next five years. I’m not sure, though, how that equates to the government *requiring* hoarding to take place.

  2. Yep, pretty much. The Local Plan for any given local authority will identify where development is generally going to go in their area. Where permission for houses will be granted, where factories and warehouses will go. Yes the odd house may get planning here and there that isn’t specifically in the local plan, but the large scale urban and village expansions will be driven by the local authority. Given that getting planning (ie doing all the paperwork required nowadays, and paying the local authority all their ‘planning gains’) is very expensive, even when a piece of land is already zoned for development, 99.999% of large developments are on land that is under option to large housebuilders and developers. Thus the entire X years supply of development land in any area will by definition be being ‘hoarded’ by developers. But the LA would not want all of it brought forward immediately – it would scupper their local plan if it did. Thus the whole ‘land hoarding’ meme is bollocks.

  3. See above: No it isn’t ,they could just plan to have more building sooner.This idea that developers are raring to go is not born out by the facts.Look up all the compulsory purchase the West Northants Development Corporation had to do to forward development of the Nunn Mills site ( I know: it should be Nuns’ Mill but the Northamptonian way with language is very quaint.)
    In the present fix compulsory purchase by development corporation is all that’s left, the private sector having flunked it entirely.

  4. @DBC Reed: having looked it up, the Nunn Mills site is an old brown field power station site, that had permission for housing, which for whatever reason the developers did not proceed with. One suspects that the main reason for this was the economic situation – what might have been economic at 2006/7 land prices was not once they crashed to less than half their previous value. Brownfield sites like this are very expensive to clean up. The WNDC has indeed compulsory purchased some of the site (not all – a tribunal found against the WNDC CPO on much of the site) – it is to provide the site for the new University of Northampton campus. It is therefore not a commercial development, but one backed by public money. It is hardly a case of the public sector being able to turn a profit where the private sector couldn’t, or actively refused to do so. If there was profit to be made in it by developing it you can bet the developers would have done so years ago. Now the taxpayer will be saddled with the cost of developing the site.

    Any site such as this one that has remained undeveloped for ages is normally entirely down to some problem with the site – land ownership problems, rising costs of brownfield site clean ups, demands from local councils for planning gains, falling land prices making development uneconomic. It has nothing to do with a housing firm refusing to make a profit for some undisclosed reason.

  5. A careful reading of the this case seems to suggest that it was not developers being resistant to start developing but a stage back with landowners being unwilling to sell/holding out for more unearned profit. In one case they could n’t find out who owned a parcel of land.A crash in land values is not a mitigating factor:1) because the land ownership was historically very old 2) because it does not serve a private sector argument to say the market causes land price inflation and busts (Really serves as an argument for Land Value Tax or the kind of limited land nationalisation provided by public ownership via compulsory purchase).Nunn Mills is not that difficult a site to develop with an attractive river frontage which Northamptonians have a century old aversion to developing( contrast Bedford) .

  6. DBC Reed

    You appear to be contradicting yourself:

    “landowners being unwilling to sell/holding out for more unearned profit. In one case they could n’t find out who owned a parcel of land.A crash in land values is not a mitigating factor:1) because the land ownership was historically very old”

    Did they hold out for more unearned profit? If so, why is the crash in land values not a mitigating factor?

  7. When all the small land owners on a large site begin to agree on selling for a large development, there is always one “hold-out” who hopes to get a premium price by being the last ,the last link in the chain. Or so I was told by a professional land parcel assembler who approached when I was on a LVT stall at a developers convention.He was the only convert to LVT we made all the time we were there.In Nunn Mills case the parcel assembly was delayed because they could not establish the owner of the “missing link “. In such as case whether market values are inflating generally does not affect the relative value of the “hold-out” piece of land

  8. “In Nunn Mills case the parcel assembly was delayed because they could not establish the owner of the “missing link “”

    So in fact it was nothing to do with developers ‘hoarding’ land and refusing to develop it at all then, more a case of a private individual owning some land who didn’t want to sell it. Maybe they preferred to keep their field as a field, not a housing estate. Which in a free country they should be free to do.

    And you haven’t answered my point that the new development will not be a commercial one, but publicly funded, and thus not evidence of a private sector failure.

  9. I would have thought the existence of derelict land with a river frontage and large lake (formerly quarry) very close to Northampton town centre at Nunn Mills(sic) was evidence of private sector failure. I agree developers were not sitting on it: it had never reached that stage of evolution. It needed land value tax to focus the minds of the landowners who had let it go to wrack and ruin. Absent that, one of the country’s last remaining development corporations stepping in to get things moving by what amounts to limited land nationalisation (or municipalisation) strikes me as in the greater good.
    To be quite honest when I was less infirm I used to like to jog through the abandoned moto-cross course, the strange deserted buildings, past the foxes walking calmly along, but I do not think that sense of freedom ,or the freedom to leave your land and go away (the major sticking point) should take precedence over attempts to help solve a national crisis in housing and development.

  10. The existence of undeveloped land in an urban area is not evidence of ‘private sector failure’, its evidence of landowners not wanting to develop their land for their own personal reasons, which they are perfectly entitled to do so. I could point you to a smallholding in the centre of my home town, where two elderly brothers continued to farm their little bit of land as they had done for decades, while the town grew around them. They chose not to sell up, despite it most likely being worth millions, because they preferred to live in the way they always had. Its an inherent feature of the private ownership of property. You don’t get to decide what other people do with what they own, and vice versa.

  11. The alternative school of thought is that people should n’t monopolise prime pieces of real estate and prevent others using them more productively.This is the raison d’etre of the Land Value Tax: you have to pay tax on the increased value of your land as provided by the community around.If you are saying that a major development, of economic benefit to a whole town should not go ahead because one owner cannot be found or, alternatively, if found ,wants to leave the site idle or grazing rough looking ponies, then this puts a high value on British anti-social eccentricity and makes practical urban policy impossible.I’d guess that you do not believe in planning
    but Nunn Mills in its present state of laissez faire is not an option either.

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