5,000 Vale homes remain unbuilt

Building at Berryfields
Building at Berryfields

‘Land banking’ and the recession are among the reasons that more than 5,000 Vale homes remain unbuilt, according to the district council planning chief.

As of March 31 this year, there were 5,515 unbuilt homes with planning permission in the district, 3,606 of these in Aylesbury. These figures do not include plans to build 2,450 homes in the Bierton area, for which final negotiations are ongoing.

John Byrne, Aylesbury Vale District Council’s head of planning, said there are many reasons for the situation.

He said: “We have quite a lot of larger schemes like Berryfields, which is 3,000 homes, which are built over a very long period.

“The economic recession is another reason. You have very good sites like the old yard next to Aylesbury College which have planning permission. It made sense economically at the time it was granted planning permission. Some developers are sitting on sites until the market picks up.

“Some might say a developer is land banking. That might be the case in some instances.”

However, some people doubt there is the need for extra housing, including those battling plans for another 3,000 homes between Bedgrove and Weston Turville, known as Hampden Fields. Phil Yerby from the Hampden Fields Action Group said: “The figure is already incredibly high. It seems beyond comprehension that anybody could approve more in light of that.”

There were 920 homes built in the Vale in 2012/13.

One developer, Kier, said it is looking to buy more land in the area.

A Kier Homes spokeswoman said: “We currently have two sites in Aylesbury - Stoke Mandeville and Berryfields.

“Both sites are fully operational, building as quickly as possible, and we have no stock at either site with a waiting list of potential customers.

“From our perspective, Aylesbury is a strong market, and we are looking to buy more land in the area.”

A Taylor Wimpey spokesman said: “Every one of our sites within the Aylesbury Vale District which have planning consent are being delivered as planned.”