Loopholes that allow developers to sit on valuable land for years without building on it are to be closed by the government in an attempt to boost the number of new homes. The Guardian

Housing minister Yvette Cooper plans to act against firms who seek to take advantage of rising property prices by delaying construction on sites that have planning permission. Developers only need to start work on a site for a planning consent to be considered valid This can involve no more than digging a trench or partially laying the foundations to a single building.

Cooper is awaiting the findings of a report from John Calcutt into ways of speeding up housebuilding before clamping down on go-slow developers, and an announcement before Christmas is expected.

Cooper said: ‘Over the last 30 years we have seen the demand for new homes increase by 30% while housebuilding rates have dropped by over 50%. This is not sustainable and that is why we have committed to building 3 million new homes by 2020. We badly need to build more new homes. The planning system needs to be speeded up but we need developers to speed up as well.’