Land hoarding by housebuilders a myth, says Turley Associates

Land hoarding by UK housebuilders is a myth, says planning and urban design consultancy Turley Associates. And proposals to give local authorities a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ tax over developers will not help build a single new home.

Peter Stacey, director and head of the residential development sector at Turley Associates, said:

“Housebuilders buy land to build homes – they are not land companies. We act for housebuilders across the country and have yet to see any evidence of land banking. It is, quite simply, a myth and to tax a myth is bad policy.”

It is often cited that housebuilders have a land bank equivilent to 400,000 new homes. Under current completion levels this equates to a pipeline of just three years.

Peter adds:

“The market is not being artificially constrained by housebuilders. Political inertia at a local level continues to stifle the availability and range of sites needed to meet market demand. Good sites are developed quickly, poor sites more slowly.”

Kate Barker’s 2004 report and the OFT’s 2008 report both found no evidence of housebuilders land banking. The OFT in its report said that housebuilders need to hold a sensible land supply as a direct result of the convoluted planning process. Housebuilders are, it said, constrained by the availability of suitable land.

Peter concludes:

“By far and away, the largest land bank is held by the public sector. The Labour Party would be better to find ways to encourage local authorities to maintain their five year land supply as this will deliver new homes where they are needed, rather than threatening housebuilders with yet another tax.”