Revealed – 11,000 homes yet to be built in two districts despite having planning permission
- Credit: Archant
Nearly 11,000 homes which have planning permission in two Suffolk districts have yet to be built, it has emerged.
Data published for Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils' meetings last week revealed there were 77 stalled sites in Mid Suffolk totalling 6,224 homes, while 4,703 homes had yet to be built in Babergh across 59 stalled sites.
It has meant the two councils have had to agree a housing delivery action plan to help kick-start stalled sites, and prevent other developments approved in future from resulting in similar delays.
Conservative councillor David Burn, Mid Suffolk's planning cabinet member, said: "Stalled sites are a problem - we do what we can to chivvy developers along but it doesn't often have satisfactory results.
"It's the developers that hold the whip hand in the end.
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"The government is aware of the problem and there are some planning innovations coming up within the next year or two that might help to address this.
"[The action plan] has got 23 points of action we think we can take and those 23 points will hopefully give us the chance of unstalling those sites."
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Stalled sites are those which have planning permission, but have been delayed from work commencing.
In some cases they may only have outline permission - which agrees to the principal of building - but the details do not come forward, while some have planning permission which is close to elapsing.
A host of reasons can be behind the delays, such as archaeology finds, developers sitting on sites in order to wait for them to become more profitable, or delays in agreeing contributions and legal agreements for local infrastructure.
The action plan has 23 points to help tackle the issue, which includes finalising the local plan, engaging with developers earlier to tackle problems sooner, and quicker sign off on legal agreements and contributions.
The joint local plan which has gone out for public consultation identified a need for 17,568 new homes across the two districts by 2036, meaning the stalled sites represent more than 62% of the districts' housing requirement.
But Mid Suffolk's opposition Green group has said the issue hasn't been taken seriously.
Councillor Andrew Stringer said: "We have called for an officer to be part of the council to drill down into this and make sure when houses are approved they get delivered.
"There is a huge amount of work to be done in that plan and I think we should be further down the line.
"We need to have really accurate knowledge about what developers are doing and where the market is, it needs open and frank conversations.
"We also want to see the district play a bigger role in building a lot more homes. Unless they are going to be building a couple of homes a week they are not taking it seriously."
Independent councillor Clive Arthey, Babergh's planning cabinet member, said: "Each site is unique in terms of what may enable it to move forward more quickly and officers are working with either landowners, promoters or housebuilders to understand what can unlock a site to allow development to happen more quickly.
"We have purchased affordable houses on some sites which has enabled the market element to move on more quickly, and we are also bringing forward development through our own growth companies.
"Development of Angel Court in Hadleigh will be an example of this and we anticipate developing at least 200 houses through our own companies over the next three years.
"The housing delivery action plan helps provide a framework for us to put more focus on delivery, but there are also other factors that affect the market like interest rates on borrowing, both for developers themselves and for individuals seeking mortgages.
"These factors will have an impact on the speed at which some developments will be built out."