Council leader tells house builders to "smarten up their act"

Date published: 07 January 2017

Rochdale Borough Council leader Richard Farnell has told house builders to "smarten up their act" if the number of new homes target is to be met.

He was speaking after new figures revealed this week that the number of homes built in the past five years fell far short of the number required meet local needs.

A total of 1,915 new homes were built in the borough since 2011, compared to planning permission for 3,843 houses being granted at various sites over the same period.

Councillor Farnell said: "House builders, both big and small, are not delivering the homes we need to keep pace with demand.

"The result is clear to see. A shortage of homes pushes up house prices which is good for developers but bad for young families who cannot afford to get on the housing ladder.

"It forces newly weds to have to live with parents or people being forced into expensive private rented accommodation because they can't afford sky high deposits and mortgage repayments.

"At the other end of the scale, we have seen the biggest rise in homelessness in decades.

"House builders need to smarten up their act. They need to start building more and also need to be more socially responsible and prioritise building on brownfield sites.

"They can't complain about the lack of sites when they are sat on land with planning permission and haven't laid a single brick on them.

"The problem is going to get worse. Rochdale needs 700 new homes every year over the next 20 years just to keep up with our growing population. Currently, builders are managing only half that number.

"The Council is facing some tough decisions to make land available for the right kind of houses in the right places, but house builders, big and small, need to play their part and up their game and start building."

Councillor Farnell is also calling on the government to give new powers to the new directly-elected Mayor of Greater Manchester to ensure more homes are built.

Councillor Farnell said: "The Mayor needs new powers to stop the big developers from banking land and doing nothing with it. They do that to profit by forcing up land values and preventing other firms building on the land. It's disgraceful.

"The Mayor also needs powers to ensure developers start building on land once planning permission is granted.

"If our housing targets are to be met we also need to start building council houses again. We need government support if we are to meet the need for more affordable homes to rent and provide specialist houses for the growing elderly population."

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