The council has been asked to build 638 homes a year for the next five years. ...Both the ruling Conservatives and opposition Liberal Democrats say that the new Government-approved house-building figure is much too high.
And the Conservatives add that even when enough planning applications are granted, they are completely in the hands of builders who move at a speed dictated by markets – not by local councils or the Government.I suspect the situation in Harborough, as reported by the Harborough Mail, is typical.
Here, the council is now extremely reluctant to turn down any planning proposal lest the developer win an appeal and costs. This was certainly behind the approval of plans for an out-of-town Tesco here earlier this summer.
But however many new houses a council approves, it has no say in whether they are built or not. It follows that taking more planning powers from councils will not improve the supply of houses.
Instead, we need to get tough with developers who sit on undeveloped land. A tax sounds a good idea.
And why not give councils the powers to build houses that they used to enjoy? The last conventionally financed council houses in Market Harborough are called Jubilee Gardens because they were completed in 1977 - the Queen's Silver Jubilee.