Developers ‘land banks’ are not enough to meet demand

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From: Steve Turner, Head of Communications, Home Builders Federation Ltd, St James’s Street, London.

YOUR article about developers being under fire for “housing greenfield land grab” (Yorkshire Post, January 21) made several common mistakes in analysing the home-building process and in particular so-called land-banking.

Home builders work in an uncertain and long-term environment which requires them to have land in different stages of development at all times. Far from “sitting on plots”, there is independent evidence – not least from a recent Office of Fair Trading report – to suggest that home builders actually do not currently have enough land to build the homes that are needed.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, developers may have land with planning permission for nearly 30,000 homes but the Government’s projections on household growth in the region reveal that there are over 27,000 new homes needed annually to meet demand.

With that in mind, it is important that much more permissioned land is brought forward for development and it is of great concern that planning permissions have fallen over recent years.

With reference to previously developed land, home builders have built close to 80 per cent of homes on brownfield land in recent years and are happy to continue to this.

The problem arises where it is simply not economically viable for brownfield land to be used, either because remediation work is too expensive or because of other demands made by planning authorities.

It also remains vital that home-building is increased to tackle the country’s housing crisis – and that which exists in Yorkshire and the Humber where more than a quarter of a million families languish on the social housing waiting list (up 66 per cent since 2000).

Building more homes benefits an area economically and socially – there must be a grown up debate about the future of Yorkshire and the Humber rather than mis-information and inaccuracy if these benefits are to be realised.

From: Carol Robinson, Chief Executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England, South Yorkshire.

WE read your article about “Developers under fire for housing greenfield land grab” and fear that this could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Planning permission has been given for over 6,000 new houses in South Yorkshire which haven’t been built yet. Given this, it is simply unacceptable for developers to try to grab more land!

If the Government’s current planning reforms, in the shape of the draft National Planning Policy Framework, are implemented, then things will only get worse.

The NPPF is set to remove the “brownfield first” rule which focuses much-needed regeneration in towns and cities across Yorkshire – and has saved our precious greenbelt from being eaten up.

We have written to all South Yorkshire MPs, including the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, to express our concerns and ask them to get Government to change its plans.

From: Mrs Veronica Davis, Selborne Terrace, Heaton, Bradford.

APPARENTLY, we need more homes to accommodate those on lengthy waiting lists.

Then why are the councils so slow to compulsorily purchase thousands of empty properties, and especially convert office buildings that have been standing vacant, some for decades?

We are an ageing population (the “baby boomers” of the ‘50s) so it stands to reason that a huge number of houses and flats will become available again in the not too distant future. There is no sense in building on already depleted greenfield sites in order for them once again to sit empty in their thousands.

Be patient, and in the meantime make best use of what is already available.

From: Arthur Quarmby, Holme, Holmfirth.

YOUR Editorial (Yorkshire Post, January 23) bemoans the lack of “affordable” housing – yet there is no such lack at all!

How many thousand houses would you like to see at less than £100,000 each (some even below £50,000 and yes, I know that these figures are appalling, but there can be no improvement while we still build by hand using techniques from 5,000 years ago).

This mass of available housing does not consist of four-bedroom, three-bathroom, double garage mansions, but perfectly decent terrace houses – many with bathrooms, some even with central heating!

I see nothing wrong with young people starting with a modest property, intending to do better as time goes by. I think it both unrealistic and downright undesirable to wish to start at the top.