Chancellor's firm 'left plot undeveloped for seven years'

A claim that a housebuilding company founded by the chancellor 'has left a plot of land empty for seven years after winning planning permission for four homes' features in today's newspaper round-up.

The Times (subscription required) reports that "Castlemead Limited, which was co-founded by Philip Hammond in 1984, builds houses, nursing homes and doctor’s surgeries. Mr Hammond resigned as a director of the company in 2010, but a trust of which he is the main beneficiary retains a controlling stake". The newspaper says that "Castlemead Group, a company majority-owned by Castlemead Limited, was granted permission to build four detached houses on the site in north Wales in June 2010, on condition work begin within five years. The company was granted a further five-year extension last year, but the site remains undeveloped". According to the newspaper, in an interview with The Sunday Times this week, Hammond "railed against the practice, in which housebuilders obtain planning permission for developments but fail to begin work".

The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that, despite housing being at the centre of today’s Budget, "critics argue the Conservatives have made similar promises to fix the escalating costs in the past but have failed to deliver on seven of their housing pledges from before the 2015 election". The newspaper says that John Healey, the shadow housing minister, who commissioned research by the House of Commons library detailing lapses in the delivery of promised policies, said that "ministers’ record on housing since 2010 shows this is a government that talks big but delivers little. Even flagship manifesto pledges have been dropped or delayed".

The FT (subscription required) also reports that "MPs have urged the UK government to rethink the economic case for new nuclear power stations after making ‘grave strategic errors’ in the Hinkley Point project". The newspaper says that, in a report published today, "the Commons public accounts committee accused the government of neglecting consumer interests and failing to push for a better deal with the French and Chinese investors who are building the £20 billion nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset."

The Guardian reports that "at least 200 of Greater Manchester’s most entrenched rough sleepers will be given new homes, and the support needed to stay in them, after a £1.8 million grant from an ethical investment fund". The newspaper says that, under the scheme, "financed by the social impact bond, 15 of Greater Manchester’s housing providers, as well as two private-rented sector partners, have offered 270 properties for homeless people".

The Guardian also reports that "chaotic urban planning and illegal construction" in Athens played a central role in deadly flash floods that killed 20 people last week, experts have claimed. The newspaper says that "uncontrolled building on the outskirts of the Greek capital has resulted in numerous streams being concreted over, leaving rivers with no natural outlet to the sea".

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