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CMA seeks views on landbanks and planning rules

The CMA has published the final set of working papers – focused on landbanks and planning rules – as part of its ongoing market study into housebuilding.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published two ‘working papers’ seeking feedback on its assessment on the use of landbanks and how planning rules may be impacting competition and how new homes are delivered.

The separate working papers follow on from the estate management charges working paper which was published earlier in November. Those who wish to submit feedback to the CMA on these latest working papers have until 6 December 2023 to do so.

On land banks, the CMA’s analysis has found that, although land equivalent to over a million plots is held in landbanks, in most local areas that land is held by several different builders. The CMA is seeking feedback on this analysis, and in particular, whether local competition is being negatively impacted in the small number of areas where large amounts of developable land are controlled by a small number of housebuilders.

The CMA is continuing to examine the size of land banks overall, recognising that housebuilders need to hold a pipeline of land as sites pass through the planning system. The conclusions of this analysis will be published in the final report.   

On planning, the CMA has developed options that the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments may consider when reforming their planning systems, including:

  • Whether a zoning or rules-based approach to development may help improve competition between housebuilders and boost housing delivery.
  • Making better use of councils’ limited time and resources by requiring them to only consult statutory stakeholders, rather than a wider group, as part of their assessment of planning applications. Late consultee responses on development could also be ignored.
  • Having an effective housing target which reflects the housing need of specific areas, and improving the ways governments ensure all councils have a proper local plan in place.

Dan Turnbull, Director of Markets at the CMA, said:

As we’ve progressed our work, we’ve heard concerns that the way large housebuilders use landbanks and complex planning rules may be harming competition and hold up the building of new homes.

The market study is looking at all the options available which could increase the numbers of homes being built for the people who need them – this includes probing the issues around landbanks and planning rules further.

We now want to get feedback on these working papers from the key people in the industry – be that council planning departments, builders or landowners – before we publish our findings early next year.

More information can be found on the housebuilding market study case page.

Notes to editors:

  1. Those who wish to respond to the CMA can submit their feedback via the case page.
  2. The CMA will progress its housebuilding market study before publishing a final report by 27 February 2024.
  3. Working papers allow the CMA to collect feedback on a range of potential options that could potentially resolve the emerging concerns it has identified. The possible measures set out in the working papers should not be regarded as an indication of ‘preferred’ solutions.
  4. As part of its analysis of land banking, the CMA used its information-gathering powers to secure data on the size and exact location of more than 5,800 individual sites held in the land banks of 11 of the largest housebuilders. It revealed land in long-term land banks is equivalent to c.658,000 plots, while the short-term land bank is smaller, at c.522,000 plots.
  5. The CMA has used two separate methodologies to identify 29 specific areas of the UK where a high proportion of land is owned by a group of the largest housebuilders. As part of the working paper process the CMA is inviting feedback on these methodologies before publishing a final list in its report next year.
  6. The planning and land banking working papers are the final to be published by the CMA. All feedback received will be assessed as the CMA prepares its final market study report.
  7. All enquiries from journalists should be directed to the CMA press office by email on or by phone on 020 3738 6460.
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