Housing minster Gavin Barwell has indicated councils could be allowed to increase their borrowing cap for housing but only if they are delivering on the homes they have promised to build.
Mr Barwell has also mooted giving councils powers to force developers to complete schemes that have planning permission.
Speaking at the District Councils Network conference today ahead of the publication of the government’s housing white paper, Mr Barwell raised the possibility that areas that are delivering on their local plans could be granted more flexibilities over the borrowing cap for housing.
He said: ”The Treasury has to have a view on the limits, but certainly where there are authorities that are delivering and are at that limit, I am open to a conversation.”
Mr Barwell advocated caution on accusations of private developers ‘land banking’ sites, but said schemes should be completed quicker once building starts.
He said the government was considering a series of planning reforms that would significantly increase the rate of housebuilding, including measures to ensure every area has a local plan that is “honest” about the level of demand.
Mr Barwell said: “I am going to hold you to account on delivering that plan.
”Releasing land on its own is not going to solve the problem you have got to find a way to get developers to build these sites out - the white paper is going to have a lot to say about that.
”But having done that, then I am going to hold you to account for actually delivering.”
Mr Barwell add that the white paper, which had been expected last month, would address issues such as the under-resourcing of planning departments, the “speed of discharge” of section 106 agreements and a more “common sense” approach to wildlife protection.
Later Local Government Association chair Lord Porter (Con) said the government was serious about councils building social housing again.
But he warned ministers were likely to start withdrawing powers from local government by the end of next year if it “fails to deliver”.