Councils should issue compulsory purchase orders to build on land where planning permission has been granted but is not being built upon, the managing director of the Norse Group has advised.
The Norse Group is Norfolk CC's wholly-owned company and comprises a property consultancy arm, a care provider and a facilities management service.
Speaking at the The MJ Future Forum North, Mike Britch said: ‘One of the biggest barriers to house building is the inequity of the land trading industry.’
Mr Britch explained that many developers and landowners were occupying land with planning permission but have no intention of building on that land any time soon.
He said that local authorities shoulder the blame for not meeting housing targets, and that they should acquire vacant land to build on it.
Mr Britch added that the Government has ‘made the right noises’ when it comes to housebuilding, but that Prime Minister Theresa May’s £2bn pledge for affordable housing at the Conservative Party Conference would only be enough to build 25,000 new homes whereas the country needs at least 300,000.
He also stressed the need to build good quality and safe council housing and the need for councils to help shift the image of council housing away from the poor quality that it has come to symbolise.
He said: ‘We need to ensure that council housing doesn’t become the dirty word it has been in the past. It needs to be high-quality and safe.
‘What happened at Grenfell in June was a reminder to us all of the importance of properly maintaining our housing stock.
‘We need to build homes, not just castles in the air.’