CMA seeks views on landbanks and planning rules

CMA seeks views on landbanks and planning rules

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published two ‘working papers’ seeking feedback on its assessment on the use of landbanks and how planning rules may be impacting competition and how new homes are delivered.

The separate working papers follow on from the estate management charges working paper which was published earlier in November.

On land banks, the CMA’s analysis has found that, although land equivalent to over a million plots is held in landbanks, in most local areas that land is held by several different builders. The CMA is seeking feedback on this analysis, and in particular, whether local competition is being negatively impacted in the small number of areas where large amounts of developable land are controlled by a small number of housebuilders.

The CMA is continuing to examine the size of land banks overall, recognising that housebuilders need to hold a pipeline of land as sites pass through the planning system. The conclusions of this analysis will be published in the final report.

On planning, the CMA has developed options that the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments may consider when reforming their planning systems, including:

  • Whether a zoning or rules-based approach to development may help improve competition between housebuilders and boost housing delivery.
  • Making better use of councils’ limited time and resources by requiring them to only consult statutory stakeholders, rather than a wider group, as part of their assessment of planning applications. Late consultee responses on development could also be ignored.
  • Having an effective housing target which reflects the housing need of specific areas, and improving the ways governments ensure all councils have a proper local plan in place.

Dan Turnbull, director of markets at the CMA, said: “As we’ve progressed our work, we’ve heard concerns that the way large housebuilders use landbanks and complex planning rules may be harming competition and hold up the building of new homes.

“The market study is looking at all the options available which could increase the numbers of homes being built for the people who need them – this includes probing the issues around landbanks and planning rules further.

“We now want to get feedback on these working papers from the key people in the industry – be that council planning departments, builders or landowners – before we publish our findings early next year.”

Those who wish to submit feedback to the CMA on these latest working papers have until 6 December 2023 to do so.

The CMA will progress its housebuilding market study before publishing a final report by 27 February 2024.

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