England: Pitch to charge developers council tax over land banking

A city boss says he’s ready to charge developers council tax over land banking. Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, says the government isn’t going far enough in raiding land banks. Rees wants councils with the power to charge developers council tax if they fail to deliver the number of promised homes within a set period.Bristol is facing a housing crisis that the council is trying to counter by building 2,000 homes by 2020 and 33,000 homes by 2036.But land banking is said to be an issue. In a blog post, Rees says the government needs to focus on four key policy areas including welfare reforms, regulation of the private rented sector and powers to build more social housing – alongside a crackdown on land banking.

“Across our cities, we have unbuilt permissions amounting to around three years-worth of housing units at current delivery rates.

“We also want powers and resources to build social housing.

“Councils have the ability to borrow money for commercial projects but not the equivalent powers to borrow for residential building projects.”

There are currently 11,489 people on the waiting list for a council house in Bristol. Against this background, Rees has called for a fundamental shift in the way the city and central government views housing stock, prices and rents.

“It undermines our communities as people are shifted around the cities as tenancies are ended in order to move in tenants able to pay higher rents,” he said.

“We know that the biggest cause of people becoming homeless is evictions from the private rented sector. And we have the challenge of gentrification giving rise to social tensions.

“We have made the case that housing is more than a wall and roof.

“It is the key policy tool for health, education and employment and getting it right reduces the demand on all the public services that are required to come in to play when society fails.”

Published by: 24 Housing (8 March 2018)
Written by: Bill Tanner

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