Borough considers using planning obligations to tackle 'buy-to-leave'

Reports that a north London borough is considering using section 106 agreements to tackle 'buy-to-leave' property investors who leave homes empty in order to make money from property price rises feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Guardian reports that the London Borough of Islington plans to force owners of newly built homes to prove they are occupied after it emerged that "close to a quarter of homes in five of the newest residential developments appear to be empty". It says that section 106 agreements with developers would stipulate that "new homes would not be left unoccupied or unused for longer than three months, and would have to be occupied for at least 14 days in any three-month period". The article quotes John Silvester, a former president of the Planning Officers Society, who said such a use of the planning system was "unprecedented and it might be challenged on the grounds that it seeks to curb established rights among property owners".

The Telegraph reports that think-tank the Institute of Fiscal Studies has warned that Britain faces spending cuts on a "colossal scale" after the general election, leading to a "fundamental reimagining" of the role of the state. According to the newspaper, the think-tank said that although £35 billion of cuts in spending by government departments had been completed over the past five years, "there is still £55 billion to come by 2020".

The Guardian reports that the IFS "confirmed that the scale of cuts to departmental budgets and local government would reduce the role of the state to the point where it would have ‘changed beyond recognition’". The newspaper adds that local government has already endured a 40 per cent cut since 2010. Professor Tony Travers of the LSE told the newspaper: "Local government will continue to exist, but it would look different to anything we have known."

The Times (subscription required) reports that runaway house prices are being reined in, with the rate of growth slowing for the forth consecutive month, "but this may soon reverse as a result of the chancellor’s changes to stamp duty". According to the newspaper, some analysts believe that house prices "could once again be inflated by the chancellor’s surprise decision to overhaul the so-called ‘slab’ stamp duty system, which was announced in this week’s Autumn Statement and came into force today".

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