It's reported that Ed Milliband is to call for penalties for developers that 'hoard land'. I do hope not, for reasons discussed in a post from last September:
"I find myself increasingly irritated by people pointing to
the number of sites with permissions (enough for 400,000 homes we are
told) as if this somehow proves that the planning system is not part of
the longer term problem. First, many of these sites will be in areas
that always had low demand. Remember, the UK planning system is
incredibly unresponsive to price signals. So no surprise that these
sites aren't being developed now demand has tanked. Second, when those
sites are in relatively high demand areas, developers still have strong
incentives to hold on to sites, because they know that the long term
trajectory of house (and hence land) prices in those areas is upwards.
In other words, holding sites becomes more sensible as the gap between
current price and future expected price increases. And why do developers
expect prices to increase more in the long run? Partly because demand
will recover, but partly because the planning system continues to
restrict the supply of land in places where demand is highest."
Sure, developers share some of the 'blame' for problems in the housing market. Some of the problem is down to bad practises, bad management etc; some of it down to the planning system itself. But genuine land 'hoarding' (getting planning permission for sites you have no intention of developing in the short to medium run) is only a small part of the problem. Ed Milliband will get headlines for attacking it, but that doesn't bring us any closer to understanding how Labour would try to fix the much bigger problems of housing supply and hence help solve the housing crisis.