New planning rules to speed up property building

A major review has said that new planning rules should be produced for sites with more than 1,500 homes to speed up build out rates.

Sir Oliver Letwin’s interim report did not report any evidence that major developers are ‘holding land as a purely speculative activity’ – and their business models instead rely on selling houses. Instead, he said that having too many identical properties on large sites is the fundamental reason behind the slow build out rate.

In his final report, of which he claims recommendations will help government towards their target of delivering 300,000 homes a year, Letwin calls for new planning rules which require homebuilders to offer a range of different types of properties on big sites, so they can be completed more quickly without flooding the market with a large number of identical properties.

Additionally, a new National Expert Committee should be set up to advise councils on the different types of properties that should be offered on large sites, and councils should be given a more muscular role in guiding major homebuilding projects – and the power to purchase undeveloped land for 10 times its existing use value.

Letwin said: “I found that the main reason developers are slow to complete building on large sites is that there is only a limited demand each year for the highly uniform properties they are building on those sites. My final report sets out some policy levers that government can use to increase the variety of homes on sites, so they can be built out more quickly.”

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: “There is no mission more urgent than making our housing market work, and building the homes our country needs. Sir Oliver has found that it takes 15 years to complete building on some of the largest sites, which is far too long. It is clear action is needed so developers work with us as partners to deliver 300,000 properties a year by the mid 2020s. We will consider the recommendations in Sir Oliver’s report to determine next steps to ensure we build the homes our country needs.”