Fury over Doncaster housing developers’ ‘land blocking’

Doncaster's  Civic Offices.
Doncaster's Civic Offices.

‘Land-blocking’ housing developers have been blasted after it emerged Doncaster Council is falling hundreds short of its house-building target.

Doncaster Council set a target for 1,230 new houses to be built in the town every year between 2011 and 2023 as part of an ambitious project to regenerate and reinvigorate the borough’s economy.

But despite an upturn in growth in Doncaster and across the region, a damning new report has revealed that less than half the targeted amount of housing is being developed.

This is in spite of the fact the council has granted permission for some 10,000 new houses to be built since 2011.

According to the report, which went before the council’s planning committee, one of the factors contributing to the lack of development by house builders is the perception among some that the value of homes in pounds per square foot was either ‘not viable’ or ‘good enough’ in Doncaster.

Report author Richard Purcell said this was particularly true in the north and east of the town, where house builders stated they could not see any demand.

Planning committee member and Sprotbrough Councillor Jonathan Wood told the meeting he believed ‘land-blocking’ housing developers were to blame and they should be fined if they failed to start building on approved sites within 12 months.

He said: “Why are they putting applications forward if they have no intention of building?

“I know they have to pay a fee to put the application in, and it’s a waste of the council’s resources and time if nothing comes of it.”

“As a council we are doing everything we can to get houses built.”

Peter Dale, director of regeneration and environment, said of the failed housing target: “We can only give appropriate approvals and it is down to the developers to build the houses.

“However, the council is creating a multi-agency delivery plan which involves working with banks and liaising with consultees to solve potential problems and find solutions so more homes are built.

“In addition, a number of major housing schemes are under construction, which shows the growing confidence of housing developers in Doncaster. Thousands of new homes are going up across the borough at Carr Lodge, Manor Farm, the Gables, Belle Vue and The Residence to name just a few.”

Andrew Whitaker, planning director of the National House Building Federation, said: “Discussions about so-called ‘land banking’ distract from the real issues of housing need in Doncaster.

“The long-term problems of under-supply of homes can already be seen as rises in average house prices have outstripped average wages in recent years.

“Each new home supports more than four local jobs and brings a wealth of benefits to communities so we need many more new, high quality homes for people in Doncaster to buy or rent and that can only be achieved with a sound Local Plan for the area, a sensible allocation by the local authority of sites for new housing and a realistic approach to the local taxes imposed on house-building.

“Viability issues are considered by house-builders throughout the development process and especially prior to purchasing land.

“If the land represents a suitable opportunity to build homes for sale at a price that offers a return on the investment then it will be considered and the process of applying for planning permission will be pursued.”