Landowners’ leader critical of urban ‘bias’ to chancellor’s housebuilding policy set out in budget speech

Tim Breitmeyer. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Tim Breitmeyer. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

The leader of a landowners’ lobby group has criticised the chancellor of the exchequer’s focus on urban areas in the house building policy which he laid out in his budget speech.

Country Land and Business Association president Tim Breitmeyer, who farms on the Essex/Cambridgeshire border, said: “We need more homes of all types across the whole country. It is worrying for a chancellor to be so explicit in describing a policy so completely focused on urban areas.

“The shortage of homes in rural communities is no less acute than in our towns and cities. Rural landowners stand ready and able to play their part in delivering the homes people need. Another budget has gone by without making simple changes to tax and planning policy that could make a big difference.”

However, the newly-elected president welcomed the increase in small sites in local plans and further funding for the Home Builders Fund.

“We also look forward to participating in the review to be led by Oliver Letwin into the buildout rates of land with planning permission for housing,” he said.

“It is important that we remove any barriers to getting homes built. We will, however, strongly resist the suggestion of blanket changes to policies on compulsory purchase of land for house building. This should only ever be a last resort. Councils should be focused on establishing effective partnerships with local landowners not seeking to forcibly remove their property.” He was also critical of “yet another inadequate partial intervention on business rates”.

“Businesses struggling to absorb dramatic rates bill increases imposed this April hoped for a complete freeze in rates increases planned for next year. Instead, the shift from an increase linked to the retail price index (4%) to the consumer price index (2.8%) is merely doing the right thing, but almost a decade too late,” he said.

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He added: “The shift to a three-yearly revaluation is a positive step. We must never again see the dislocation caused by the seven year delay in revaluations experienced in 2016. However, the key will be not the frequency of the revaluation but the quality. Too many rural businesses suffer from inaccurate ratings.

“The campaign for more radical reform has to carry on for another year.”