“Buy land,” said Mark Twain. “They’re not making it any more.”
An issue we have spoken about before, but all to briefly, is ‘land banking‘. This is best described as landowners sitting on undeveloped plots of land waiting for land to increase in value before building on the plots. And in the course of 2016 and 2017 land values have risen by £450 billion across the whole of the UK according to the Office of National Statistics.
We have used publicly available data released by the Land Registry, otherwise known as the ‘Corporate & Commercial dataset’, to look at who is land banking in Kent. We have only looked at the 11 largest publicly listed housebuilders in the UK, tracking their subsidiary companies via the Persons of Significant Control data from Companies House. We found between them they own over 1300 titles across all 12 districts in Kent (not including Medway).
The 11 largest housebuilders are Barratt Developments, Bellway, Berkeley Group, Bovis, Countryside, Crest Nicholson Holdings, Galliford Try, McCarthy & Stone, Persimmon, Redrow and Taylor Wimpey. We have provided a spreadsheet of all the land either held by freehold or leasehold at the end of this blog piece.
Now it is clear that travelling around our glorious County, locals inform us that some of the land has been developed, some is being developed but much remains undeveloped.
However, there is still a problem as these 11 housebuilders can control land via option agreements, which are private legal agreements between the land owner and any one of the 11 house builders. Our Council, FHDC will no doubt use these with regards to land at Otterpool Park.
In Febuary 2017 Sajid Javid, the then Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government pledged to create a register of option agreements, but this is a long way off, and may not be public when it does appear.
The big 11 housebuilders make developers/housebuilders such as Pentland Homes, Gladman Developments and Quinn Estates look utterly insignificant in the scheme of things.
We believe more than ever it is time to introduce a Land Value Tax
You can view the land owned and banked in your district ⇒ HERE
The Shepwayvox Team Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful