Planning reforms needed to speed up housebuilding process - report

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Reforms to quicken the "drip-fed" housebuilding process are needed, according to a think tank.

Civitas said that, at present, homes are only built at a rate that would not depress current house prices.

It argued new residential land "is drip-fed by the market at a rate that keeps prices high".

It said a new land and planning framework is needed that enables developers to sell homes more cheaply, and so build them more quickly, by purchasing land at lower prices.

For this to happen, the landowners' right to sit on land indefinitely needs to be removed, the think-tank said.

Its suggested overhaul would put the onus on landowners to sell land for private development at the best price they can get before the local authority steps in with compulsory purchase powers.

This would be to the advantage of developers as they would be able to buy land more cheaply, Civitas argues.

Daniel Bentley, editorial director at Civitas, said: "What is required is a new land and planning framework that enables developers to sell homes more cheaply, and so build them more quickly, by purchasing the land at lower prices.

"For this to be feasible, the landowners' right to sit on land indefinitely needs to be removed."

Civitas proposes that contractual obligations should be introduced alongside planning permission, governing the pace of delivery by developers.

This would cover build rate, start dates or completion dates as deemed appropriate by the local authority.

The proposals would encourage the use of fines where contracts are breached.

Civitas: Institute for the Study of Civil Society describes itself as a "cross-party think tank which seeks to facilitate informed public debate".