MPs call for councils to be given more powers to tackle ‘land banking’

By William Eichler | 10 June 2021

Local authorities should be granted more powers to act where developers are too slow in completing sites with planning permission, MPs have said.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee suggested councils should be able to levy full council tax charges on incomplete properties if sufficient progress had not been made within 36 months.

It also called on the Government to revisit its proposals for reforming the planning system, which involves designating local areas as one of three types of development zone: growth, renewal and protected.

Its report, published today, said that members were ‘unpersuaded’ that the Government's proposals will produce a cheaper, quicker and more democratic planning system.

The committee has asked for more information on how the Government’s target to build 300,000 homes a year will be achieved.

Committee chair Clive Betts said: ‘The Government’s aim of developing a planning system that enables buildings to be built more quickly and with greater input from local communities is welcome, but it is far from clear how the current proposals will achieve this. 

‘Local authorities also need better options for pushing developers to actually build what they have been given permission for.’

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said: ‘The planning system is in need of improvement and our reforms will mean a quicker, more efficient and less bureaucratic planning system so we can build more much-needed homes across the country.'

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