The Government’s new planning bill could finally penalise Waverley’s tardy developers.

Measures to force developers to ‘use it or lose it’ have been called for by  Waverley borough councillors for many years. Now there is a possibility, that measures will be included in the new planning bill.

Waverley’s Rainbow Coalition, along with councils across the country have called for measures to force developers to build out planning consents for years.  But their calls have fallen on deaf ears.

As reported in our Farnham post yesterday the borough no longer has a five-year housing land supply. In the main due to developers land banking.  Sites consented many years ago still remain homeless.   The build, build, build in Farnham set to increase?

Waverley joined The Local Government Association (LGA) in calling for the upcoming planning bill to include a new “use it or lose it” tax to penalise developers who do not build out planning permissions. It has been suggested that such a proposal could be included in the new legislation.

Cranleigh Councillor Liz Townsend has been very vocal in calling for a change in legislation. A number of consented sites in the eastern villages have been slow in coming forward. 


Over the weekend, the LGA issued a statement claiming that an analysis of government statistics showed that over 1.1 million homes with planning permission were waiting to be built. 

It reveals that “2,782,300 homes have been granted planning permission by councils since 2010/11 but over the same period only 1,627,730 have been built”.

“The number of planning consents has more than doubled since 2010, with nine in ten planning applications being approved by councils. While there will be in some cases legitimate reasons as to why development has stalled, and it is recognised that there is a time lag between permission being granted and homes being built, new build completions have only increased by just over half as much in that time. This shows that planning is not the barrier to house-building and that it is the housing delivery system that needs to be reformed”.

The LGA believes the Queen’s Speech should bring forward legislation that enables councils to charge developers full council tax for every unbuilt development from the point the original planning permission expires. It also wants to make it easier for councils to use compulsory purchase powers to acquire stalled housing sites or sites where developers do not build out to timescales contractually agreed with the local planning authority.

Campaign group the Campaign to Protect Rural England backed the idea of new measures to ensure consented developments get built out. Its campaigns and policy director Tom Fyans said:

“In the eye of an affordable housing crisis, we need a ‘use it or lose it’ approach to planning permissions to force developers to build homes on land already allocated.

There is a mountain of evidence that planning permissions and the availability of land are not holding up the delivery of homes – rather it’s the developers slowing down building rates to keep house prices high and maximise their profits.”

 “crucial the government rethinks current proposed changes to planning and uses the upcoming planning bill to push developers into increasing build-out rates on existing sites with planning permission.”

However, it was the CPRE and Protect Our Waverley that campaigned to stop, and then delayed by years, the largest brownfield site in the borough from being developed at Dunsfold Aerodrome!

The Blame Game?

However, Home Builders Federation (HBF) planning director Andrew Whitaker said the LGA should…

“work with its members and the industry on constructive moves to make the planning process more efficient, instead of looking to grab headlines with the same baseless claims every year.

As numerous independent reports have shown, the latest by Sir Oliver Letwin, builders do not sit on land unnecessarily. Whilst housing supply has doubled in recent years, the planning process remains the biggest constraint on further increases.

Many of the homes included in these numbers will have actually been completed or are on sites where construction work is ongoing. Others will only have an initial consent and be struggling their way through the treacle of the local authority planning departments to get to the point where builders are allowed to start work.

 We would welcome a contribution by local authorities towards housing supply but regardless of who builds the houses evidence clearly shows that if we are to reach the 300,00 target many more permissions will need to be granted. It is vital that planning departments are sufficiently resourced and that applications are processed efficiently so that work can begin on sites more quickly.”

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