The Government can “no longer look the other way” about land banking by property developers, according to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.
Last week Javid said land banking was the dirty secret of the industry but that the practice had to stop.
Addressing the National Housing Building Council, he said: “Some of you have conceded to me, in private, that it happens. Some of you still deny it’s an issue. But there’s clearly something going on.”
Javid said that the housing development figures show that land banking still happens.
He said: “The number of plots approved for residential development each year rose by 59 per cent between 2011 and 2015. But the number of building starts rose by just 29 per cent.”
The Communities Secretary said that permission for more than 195,000 homes was granted in 2012.
But three years later, 40,000 of those properties had not been completed.
He said: “I believe, passionately, in free markets. If you own land and you don’t want to build on it, well, that’s your decision to make.
“But you can’t expect me and the Government to go out on a limb and not see a return.
“If you want us to pull out all the stops to create the sites, you have to build on them.
“The permission gap has to come down. The build-out rate has to go up.”
Javid added that he was pleased that the Home Builders Federation plans to publish figures for build-out rates.
He said: “When that happens it will bring some much-needed transparency to the system. And I hope it will also convince some builders of the need to get more done more quickly.
“Because there is no doubt that fixing the housing shortage is one of the great social and economic challenges of our age.”