Council lost out on millions after missing housing targets due to slow developments
PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 March 2019
A local authority has lost out on millions in bonuses after failing to reach housing targets, with tardy developers blamed for not acting on planning permissions quickly enough.
New Government figures show North Somerset Council fell almost 400 homes short of its annual house-building targets, meaning it missed out on huge sums of money.
Almost 1,050 homes should have been built across North Somerset in the 12 months preceding October, but only 679 houses were constructed.
In return the council received £2.73million from the Government’s New Homes Bonus scheme, but compared to neighbouring authorities like Bristol City Council (BCC) and Bath and North East Somerset Council (BANES) – which both oversaw the creation of more than 1,200 properties – North Somerset is missing out.
BANES received more than £5million, while BCC’s coffers were boosted by a bonus of almost £7million.
North Somerset can recoup the cash in future years if the rate of development increases.
Elfan Ap Rees, North Somerset’s executive member for housing, called for councils to be handed additional powers to force slow developers to get their act together.
He said: “We have had instances when we have given planning permission and then nothing has happened for a long time.
“We do have a need for more affordable housing in North Somerset, but developers keep arguing they don’t make enough money, but when you see their accounts they do make a lot of money.
“They build to suit their own marketing targets.
“We don’t have powers. We have pressed the Government to look at how stronger powers can be given to councils.
“When developers get planning permission they should have to start quickly and they should be taxed in some way on the site. There needs to be some sort of incentive to build more quickly.”
A North Somerset Council spokesman said it is faced with ‘hugely challenging Government targets’, which requires 21,000 homes to be built between 2006-2026.
They added: “The speed sites are developed at is in the hands of the development industry and we work hard with developers to help them bring sites forward.
“There are housing sites under construction across North Somerset.
“We are also committed to resisting poor developments in inappropriate locations.”