Build rates and planning permissions

Wokingham Borough has made a substantial number of planning permissions for new homes available to the housebuilding industry. Sometimes the developers do not build these homes at the pace the local plan would like. Others then apply for additional planning permissions because the build rate is not fast enough.

The Council and I have made these points to the government. In the Budget the Chancellor announced that Sir Oliver Letwin will lead an Inquiry into how the build rate can be speeded up to avoid the unplanned consequences of failure to use existing permissions. I will take this up again with the Inquiry.


  1. Duncan
    November 24, 2017

    I can’t begin to put into words the irony of this article. It is classic politics at work.

    We can all see what the problem is. We know the solution. We don’t need a jobsworth politician with a humongous, taxpayer financed inquiry budget to look into it what the problem is and how to solve it

    I respect you Mr Redwood, I really do but at times we need politicians to expose the political machine at work and how it conspires to rip off the taxpayer left, right and centre

    At times POLITICIANS are the problem and you can’t even see it though at least you, Mr Redwood are one of the decent and honourable ones.

    Keep up the good work

    1. Hope
      November 24, 2017

      There is no need to increase speed. There is a need to deliver on your manifesto pl due to cut immigration ASAP. Building houses quicker will not provide infrastructure, nor will it solve the public service problem as hater is no end in sight to slow immigration house building at speed will never fulfill demand! No need for another quango or sham inquiry deliver what your party promised on immigration. Same for extension, this is about allowing business cheap Labour for longer creating more demand on house building subsidized by the rest of us.

      Let me make it easy for your govt. Cut or stop immigration we cannot afford to go on this way either socially or economically.

      1. Hope
        November 25, 2017

        BTW, Oliver Letwin led the polltax did he not? How did that go?

  2. Lifelogic
    November 24, 2017

    First the government restrict planning permissions hugely for years, then when they finally grant planning them they want to order the developers to build them all immediately.

    Let the builder build them efficiently as suits them and their work force, financing, their customers & shareholders best.

    Get the government out of the damn way as much as possible, nearly always the best policy. Of course if you got rid of stamp duty and the OTT green crap building regs that would make more developments worthwhile doing and faster.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 24, 2017

      Following the budget many house builders shares fell significantly. This due to Hammond’s misguided, threatened interference and bullying of them.

      Not exactly helpful for more houses, or investment in this area, why are some in government so daft?

    2. graham1946
      November 25, 2017

      Let the builders build in their own time to suit their shareholders? They’ve been doing this for donkey’s years and so we end up with too much demand.

      This is a classic way to keep prices high and restrict supply (and if today’s houses are anything to go by, quality too). This is exactly what the OPEC countries used to do to maintain high oil prices. Oil only became cheaper when the Americans discovered and exploited fracking and the market became over supplied.

      Unfortunately we are short of bricks and skilled labour (lost in the last bust) so we can’t in effect build in sufficient bulk the way we do it now, brick by brick. We need factory built units which are quick and easy to erect less skill needed and with high quantity should eventually be cheaper.

      We also need a different financing regime – the high deposit system is busted and is a barrier to building sufficient houses. The banks ought to be able to fund virtually the whole cost (there is very little, if any risk). It is ridiculous that people paying rip off rents, who could pay less with a mortgage can’t get one because they can’t save the deposit. Ir we carry on as we have done nothing will change. I forecast Mrs. May’s legacy will be the same as all the other PM’s – failure.

  3. Chris S
    November 24, 2017

    The answer is to give these planning permissions to local builders who will get on and build them out straight away.

    It would put far more money into the local economy benefiting architects, merchants and tradesmen alike rather than the big builders who delay and delay then drive down labour rates so that only foreign workers can afford to do the work then trouser the resulting profit

    1. Chris S
      November 24, 2017

      PS and allow individuals to buy plots and have their own house designed just like in Germany. This has the same beneficial effect.

      1. hefner
        November 25, 2017

        Agreed, and agreed

  4. agricola
    November 24, 2017

    Make the permissions time expired, and if not taken up compulsorily purchased and put out to tender. Then get away from the brick on brick culture of the UK building industry. Build in factories for volume and quality.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 24, 2017

      There are planning consent is only for 3 years it used to be 5.

    2. Chris S
      November 24, 2017

      Planning permissions already do expire after three years unless a certain amount of work is undewrtaken on the project and a certificate of lawful commencement is obtained from the local authority.

      Once a certificate is granted, there is no time limit on when the property has to be completed.

      For small builders and individuals, three years is not a lot of time to start work given that the clock starts running the day permission is granted and there are many things to put into place including building regs and financing. For example, an individual might have to submit building regs drawings, sell his home to raise the funds and purchase a caravan to live in on site.

  5. Bert Young
    November 24, 2017

    Ask Sir Oliver to read the responses to your blog today . Perhaps he will then give an entirely different advice to Theresa . Her best decision would then be to ” Close the borders “.

  6. Peter Parsons
    November 24, 2017

    Land Value Tax. The longer they take to build, the more they’ll pay, so they’ll soon find ways of speeding things up.

    1. Edward2
      November 25, 2017

      Another tax?
      It will just add costs onto businesses.

      What if all your workforce is busy on other projects?
      What if you are waiting for finance?
      What if machinery and equipment is already being used elsewhere?

      1. Peter Parsons
        November 25, 2017

        Then they should plan better. All of those are soluble with better business planning.

        1. Edward2
          November 25, 2017

          You finish one project and then you start another.
          That’s planning.
          That’s why you need a bank of land.

          1. Peter Parsons
            November 27, 2017

            I suggest you read in to the proposals around Land Value Tax. It is proposed that its introduction will also result in scraping the regressive Council Tax, regressive Business Rates (LVT doesn’t increase your tax if you improve your premises because it is based on the land, not the buildings), Stamp Duty on property, Section 106 payments, the Community Infrastructure Levy and the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings.

            Six taxes and charges gone to be replaced by a single tax paid by whoever is profiting from the land in question.

            It will also encourage developers to build rather than constrain supply (which is what the current system does).

  7. James Doran
    November 24, 2017

    Developers get criticised for not building straight away on land on which they get planning permission, some say they do this to wait until prices rise so they can make more profit. In fact it’s because when it can take up to five years to get planning permission you have to be careful you don’t use up your ‘stock’ of land before you have another site ready. That the ‘land banking’ accusation is nonsense is easy to prove; you will find it expressed most often in The Guardian and they are wrong about everything. All the time.

  8. rose
    November 24, 2017

    Poor old Oliver! First David Cameron lands him with Brexit and now Mrs May has dumped the housing crisis on him. But someone needs to be handed the job of dealing with our population crisis.

  9. The Prangwizard
    November 24, 2017

    I’d like to a breakdown as between outline and full planning consents. Is the government including the former in its figures claiming the building industry is profiteering and sitting on consents without acting.

    The Conservatives are acting like socialist planners. Sonce when did the house builing industry have an obligation to build houses to government dictat.

  10. Mike Wilson
    November 24, 2017

    I think the government’s housing policy is terrible. Around here (Wokingham) houses are going up like there is no tomorrow. A large Barratt’s site south of the London Road, now two huge sites either side of the A329M, a huge site in Warfield next to Bracknell, 1500 to go on TRL at Crowthorne, a load more on the Charities Commission land in Crowthorne, just North of Wokingham a huge Crest Nicholson estate – they are all within a few miles of each other. What drives the sales? Low interest rates and the insane Help to Buy. Young people are buying at historically low interest rates with a deposit borrowed from the rest of us – paying £400k and more for 3 bed terraces. It is insane. Where is the affordable housing? Where is the social housing – not everyone can afford a 300k mortgage – even at low interest rates.

    Get off the A329M at Jennet’s Park (another huge, recent estate) and drive to Crowthorne in the rush hour (sorry, rush 3 hours) in the evening. You’ll sit in a queue stretching from the roundabout on Nine Mile Ride almost back to Jennet’s Park. What used to be a 15 minute drive from Crowthorne to Bracknell in the mornings is now a 45 minute crawl.

    Clearly, there are not enough houses around here eh Mr. Redwood. Clearly we need thousands more houses and lots more, I mean LOTS more, traffic. Why these houses can’t be built elsewhere in the country baffles me. This government seems determined to concrete over the whole of the South East of England. It is very depressing.

    1. MikeB
      November 27, 2017

      I agree with you Mike, traffic in and around Wokingham is unbearable at the moment. Just think of all the new council tax WBC will be getting. Hope it is spent wisely.

      When is the relief road / town centre bypass going to be built?

      Between say 2012 and 2020 there is a 40% increase in the population of Wokingham town alone.

      My list of large current ongoing developments:
      1) Matthews Green Road/Twyford Road
      2) Twyford Road/A329M
      3) Bell Foundry Lane (North of)
      4) Keephatch 3 (North of Warren House Road)
      5) Between London Road/Plough Lane and A329M
      6) South of London Road near Loch Fyne, not yet complete
      7) Amen Corner, massive development though technically Binfield
      8) Centre of town by the Ship Inn – office to flats conversion
      9) Carey Road/Finchampstead Road office to flats conversion
      10) Off Barkham Road, nearly complete former Guide Dogs HQ now expensive houses.

      And more is due….

      Not surprising traffic cannot cope.

  11. Chris S
    November 24, 2017

    On an important day in the Brexit saga, the lead interview on the subject on the World At One was with…………. Nick Clegg !

    This man has no role whatsoever in British Politics. He is no longer an MP having lost his seat. If the BBC wants to lead with a Remainer they should at least interview a current MP rather than a discredited has-been.

    Of course, they made no attempt at being evenhanded with no contribution from the Government or any politician supporting Leave.

    It really is time for the Culture Minister to sort out once and for all the outlandish bias against Brexit that is so evident across all BBC output.

  12. The PrangWizard
    November 24, 2017

    When did a planning consent become an obligation? If I obtain consent for a house on land I own or an extension to my existing house will I be obliged to build? Is that what government is saying to me and the commercial builders?

    What happens to house-builders when the next downturn occurs, will they be forced by government to build even when there is no demand?

    Is this the socialist paradise that the fake Conservatives are taking us to? Remember – the Tories secret slogan is – What Labour Wants, Labour Gets.

  13. Bob
    November 24, 2017

    @Mr Redwood
    I’ve seen reports on twitter suggesting that Mrs May with the approval of her Cabinet is about to double her “EU divorce settlement” offer.

    Is this more fake news?

  14. behindthefrogs
    November 24, 2017

    Builders should be held to the requirement for affordable housing and not allowed to exchange them for including schools etc. as part of the development which should be made a separate mandatory planning requirement.

    1. Edward2
      November 25, 2017

      Affordable to whom?

  15. fedupsoutherner
    November 24, 2017

    Off Topic. I was really pleased to read Michael Gove’s letter about animal welfare. It wouldn’t be difficult to do better than EU legislation over a lot of things regarding animals. I would expect pig farming to get better and for an end to battery hens. The puppy farm businesses need to be looked at too. It is disgraceful what is being allowed to go on. Well done and I look forward to a time when the UK leads the way on this issue.

  16. Lifelogic
    November 24, 2017

    Following the budget many house builders shares fell significantly. This due to Hammond’s misguided, threatened interference and bullying of them.

    Not exactly helpful for more houses or investment in this area, why are so many in government so daft?

  17. acorn
    November 24, 2017

    A land value tax (LVT), would solve that problem. The Housing industry has become expert at gaming the system. They control the supply rate to keep prices rising. They get a bonus play, every time the goverment does another tax giveaway vote catcher.

    1. Edward2
      November 25, 2017

      From the time you buy land to the time you are able to build can take years.
      Construction companies treat land as stock.
      They plan their next projects to start after current ones end.
      It’s a cycle needed to keep their employed workforce steadily busy.
      Finance has to be planned applied for and ready.
      Plant and equipment has to be ready and available.
      The left have a “bee in their bonnets”about land banking.
      It’s just part of the necessary requirements of project management in this industry.

  18. Lifelogic
    November 24, 2017

    Apprenticeship levy behind 60% collapse in number of people starting training courses it seems. Not to mention all the admin time wasted by government and bureaucrats producing a negative output as usual.

    Well done government and Javid once again! Government once again making thing worse and tax people even more in money and time! We are led by donkeys.

    Business Secretary Sajid Javid said:

    Three million more apprenticeships by 2020 means even more life changing opportunities for our young people. More than that, apprenticeships make sense for business. That’s why some of the country’s top business leaders are coming together to bang the drum for apprenticeships.

    We are putting employers at the heart of quality apprenticeships so that young people get the skills they need to succeed. Today we are celebrating everything that apprenticeships have to offer businesses and young people.

    Chaired by the Prime Minister’s apprenticeship advisor Nadhim Zahawi MP and businessman and apprenticeship champion David Meller

    1. MikeB
      November 27, 2017

      If you tax something you get less of it

  19. Mark B
    November 24, 2017

    All well and good so long as he does not file his findings in the rubbish bin.


  20. Sir Joe Soap
    November 24, 2017

    I can’t see the problem. The land belongs to the landowners, who have a certain amount of time in law to build on their land. Is the heavy hand of the State about to be placed on them to chivvy them along so we can house the lasts arrivals from elsewehere?

    1. Lifelogic
      November 24, 2017

      Indeed. The planning consent is only for 3 years (it used to be 5) leave the builders alone.

  21. Ed Mahony
    November 24, 2017

    Liam Fox insulting UK Business again. Revealing he’s really clueless about business and international trade.
    If he’s one of the three main government Brexiters, and things carry on like this, this country’s is in real trouble.
    The evidence is building up day by day that Hard Brexit is going to be a disaster from one degree to another (as opposed to a deal on border control whilst we remain in the single market and customs union, and then reconsider Hard Brexit in 10 or 20 years time).

    1. Ed Mahony
      November 24, 2017

      ‘and then reconsider Hard Brexit in 10 or 20 years time’ – although i’m sure the country would strongly vote against Hard Brexit (but not against controlled borders).

      1. Hope
        November 24, 2017

        There is no hard Brexit or soft Brexit. A fiction by remainers. We voted leave in its entirety, if you lost get over it.

        1. Backtoback
          November 24, 2017

          Sorry to have to burst your bubble Hope..very soon we’ll be out in our entirety but with no alternative plan in place..we’ll be left twisting in the wind with the economy stagnating and maybe for two decades more with no pay rises, productivity in the doldrums and massive debt and deficits mounting..its not good and no amount of name calling is going to change anything. The govrnment at this time is doing its best to move things on to taljs about the future but the EU is holding tough..there will be no talks until the exit business is a nation we were never is such a weakened position..i don’t think anything will be agreed at the december meeting not because of the money but because of
          the other two especially yhe irish border. There is no government in northern ireland and now it looks like the government in the republic is about to that leaves Barnier with the final now who do you think are the winners in all of this..we know who the losers are

          1. graham1946
            November 26, 2017

            Your first few lines sound like an accurate description of the last 10 years when we are full members and paying 10 billion a year for the privilege.

        2. Ed Mahony
          November 25, 2017


          This argument fails at two basic levels:

          1) Easy to make the argument that leading Brexiters said during and before the Referendum that Brexit was NOT about leaving the single market (there’s lots of precise evidence of this on the internet and media in general). Of course, lots of evidence the other way but not enough to make Hard Brexit a ‘fiction.’

          2) Hard Brexit has to have the long-term aspirations of the majority of the people to work. The reality is that most people weren’t really sure what they were voting for. The Referendum was incredibly vague. What is clear, and not vague, is that most people put economics before politics (it’s about the economy, stupid). Therefore if Hard Brexit were introduced, and the economy went into decline, then people would quickly demand a second referendum or something like it to re-balance the economy.

          I’m sorry to be a pain in the ass, but if what I say is true then it’s in EVERYONE’s best interest to speak the truth. Because the biggest losers could turn out to be Hard Brexiters themselves, ending up with horrible egg on their faces, and who knows, we could even end up closer to the EU than before because of UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

        3. Ed Mahony
          November 25, 2017

          ‘if you lost get over it’

          – It’s not us versus them. We’re ALL in this together. It’s not about being right or wrong either (everyone makes mistakes, the strongest people are those who recognise their mistakes, the weakest people are those who don’t – this is common psychology). What is important is that we move forward, pragmatically, for the good of all. Clearly we have to listen to all sides. And there are more than two, more like three (Hard Remainers, Hard Brexiters – and those in the middle who voted both for and against and easily the majority of the country).
          What is clear is that is Hard Brexit, even if it did work, will NOT lead to a land of milk and honey as some Hard Brexiters think. It’s crazy to think this (the result of Group think hysteria as well as kinds of dissatisfaction with life). We build things up thinking it will bring euphoria and then realise what an anti-climax. In other words, there’s far, far more to life than whether we’re in or out of the EU. But getting things wrong could seriously mess millions of people’s lives up for the next 20 years or so.

          1. Hope
            November 26, 2017

            Utter tosh. We voted leave, full stop. Get over it you lost the vote. It happens at every election, a winner and loser. You lost. Nothing hard or soft about it. A fiction/narrative by remainers to keep us in or as close as possible.

    2. Edward2
      November 25, 2017

      Soft Brexit =staying in the EU
      Hard Brexit=actually leaving the EU

  22. Prigger
    November 24, 2017

    BBC in relation to “an incident” in Oxford Street are speaking at one third of their normal news reporting speed. Reason, possibly they find English hard to pronounce. But equally likely they have no information whatsoever. Other networks including Sky News and CNN are on normal speed and of course social media is reporting triple-speed and one and a half hours in front of MSM.
    BBC staff productivity is very much behind comparable media. The licence fee should be stopped or given to Twitter, Facebook and other social media

    1. listener
      November 24, 2017

      I ‘ve noticed that too. The spoken delivery has been slowed down over the last year.
      I suppose it makes it easier to follow for all.
      Zeb Soanes (?) has a great voice though and the man who sounds like Barry White, don’t know his name

  23. FrankC
    November 24, 2017

    Why not start charging council tax on the proposed houses before they are built. Allow a lead time based on the average time to build. Fail to build and the plot loses permission.

    1. Lifelogic
      November 24, 2017

      Better not to apply f0r consent then until you are ready to build.

    2. Edward2
      November 25, 2017

      Planning permission already lapses after a number of years.

  24. Colin Hart
    November 24, 2017

    The Letwin Inquiry: “On balance it is only prudent for property companies to build up and maintain land banks and it would be unwise for government to intervene any more than it does already.” That’s the executive summary. Let the civil servants draft the stuff in between.

  25. Chris S
    November 24, 2017

    Mrs May appears to have increased the offer of money to €40bn and still the 27 seem unlikely to allow talks to move on to discuss trade.

    The obvious way to resolve the impass over the issue of the money is to move to independent arbitration, which would have to be binding on both sides. A form of arbitration and a time scale should not be difficult to agree on.

    After all, Brussels has stated that there is no question of us being asked to pay a fee to discuss a trade deal and the EU side has also stated that the money they are looking for is only to cover amounts that we are obliged to pay towards programmes that have already been agreed.

    Everything applicable to the money issue must be recorded in writing in the relevant treaties so the legal situation should be cut and dried. If there is any ambiguity, it can be settled by the arbitration committee after they have considered submissions from lawyers representing each side.

    The only other matter holding up progress appears to be the Irish border issue. There has already been a suggestion that Eire could be given a rolling veto which they could employ further down the line if they are not happy with the border solution that has been established once the shape of the final trade deal is known. That would also conveniently get round any delay that might be caused by a general election in the Republic.

    What possible reason could either side have for not agreeing to move forward on this fair and reasonable basis ?

    After all, a deal is in the interest of both sides and both are saying that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed

  26. Miss Brandreth-Jones
    November 25, 2017

    Building is not solely about houses.It is a renewal of culture.Listening to BBC 4 on friday nights reminds me of the pain and sadness we have all gone through to get to nowhere.Younger people may not feel this ,but just as we were getting somewhere,it all went pear shaped.The songs of the past reflect those times when it was going to get better, but really it didn’t and our times are full of longing for a life without the nasty jokers,for the upbringing we carved out and for that instinctual desire to improve ourselves rather than bring others down if we couldn’t. We lost our souls to the rat race , divorce and the EU. We were never a nation which looked like a Breugal painting of coarse peasants.

  27. matthu
    November 25, 2017

    I think that additional housing is being deliberately forestalled by government. Why? because when traditional jobs in the UK start to disappear, and imported labour begins to return to the EU, there will be a lot less demand for housing.

    Nothing to do with Brexit per se, other than that Brexit will accelerate the adoption of automation / driverless trains along the motorways / mass unemployment that is already being planned for amongst the working classes (including all those up to senior accountant level in quite rapid order).

    There will be no need for commuters. They will either have retired or fled to other countries. All that will remain will be a massive Wonderland for tourists, with fast moving electric trams.

    The only trouble is, this will not be powered by windmills, hence the subsidy being removed. It will be powered by diesel in the short term, or by nuclear power. So how to control the greenies when they find out? Anybody caught causing trouble will lose their travel rights to travel to these COP climate conferences once a year.

    But anybody more activist – how will they be controlled? We will have to become a much more regulated society. Hence the capability for all the mobile phone tracking. There will need to be curfews at night in some areas too …

    So, no need for additional traditional housing then.

    1. matthu
      November 25, 2017

      I did NOT mean to sound too alarmist. I am sure that big government will do its utmost to keep interest rates low for 20-30 years, knowing that salaries of those who stay in the UK will stagnate and that mass evictions would not go down too well.

      So interest rates stay low, you can afford to stay in your house as long as you continue to pay some row rate of interest. And there WILL be jobs – just not the ones you were possibly counting on. Possibly taking in lodgers. Or becoming a plumber or a community police officer.

      Or you rent it out, and earn your higher salary in another country.

      Life is changing. Plan for it happening.

  28. Evan Owen
    November 25, 2017

    The problem is politics and votes, when anyone in power suggests we build on green belt, designated landscapes or some land covered with brambles MPs vote against this after being bombarded with NIMBY letters and the government is thwarted at every turn. The country needs HONESTY.

Comments are closed.