Developers and housing groups say councils are vital to growth

Published on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 10:30
Posted by Scott Buckler

The ongoing housing crisis is likely to continue unless councils are given a greater role in boosting local growth, developers and housing groups have warned

In a new report for the Local Government Association, The British Property Federation stressed the need for their members to work closely with councils in order to meet local housing need. While the Royal Institute of British Architects urged developers to put forward more imaginative design proposals to planning committees.

There is greater pressure on council housing as a result of welfare changes, public sector reforms and budget cuts.  Estimates suggest that 250,000 homes a year need to be built to deal with the growing demand. However, over the past 20 years, just 145,000 homes have been built on average.

Councils are at the forefront of encouraging the building of new homes within local communities. They are making land available for new builds, overwhelmingly approving planning permissions, providing deposits for first time buyers and working with developers to reduce their risk, in addition to many other schemes to encourage house building.

However, the Government is due to consult on proposals to allow developers to require local authorities to reconsider section 106 agreements. These contributions are crucial in securing essential infrastructure to ensure that a development works for both the community and the developer now and in years to come.

Consultations are also ongoing about how right-to-buy receipts from housing sales will be invested. Councils believe that these receipts should be retained locally to enable them to quickly invest in affordable housing – rather than Whitehall taking the money and then allowing councils to bid for a smaller portion of the funds.

Cllr David Parsons, Chairman of the LGA's Environment and Housing Board, said:

"The ticking housing time bomb in the country can be defused if councils are allowed to get on the front foot and start delivering new houses. It is positive that developers and housing groups are now behind councils.

"Many councils are taking action by making public land available, speeding up planning permission and using new approaches such as build-to-rent and housing cooperatives.

"However, the Government should rethink proposals allowing developers to reduce their commitments to local people in exchange for building and plans for the Treasury to take large portions of right-to-buy receipts."

The comments come as the LGA launches a new publication this week called ‘Delivering Housing Growth', which includes a series of essays from experts from across the sector, in addition to a contribution from the Secretary of State for Housing, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP.


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