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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Freeing up land can help drive economy, conference hears

SOME key financial players have highlighted the need to ensure land is available to trigger economic expansion.

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Speakers: Eden Council’s director of planning Gwyn Clark, the council’s senior planning officer Paul Fellows, construction company chief Fred Story and Eden Council chief executive Dr Robin Hooper

Carlisle construction company chief Fred Story was among those who spoke at a conference in Penrith. He and others highlighted how crucial it is for land to be freed up for developments that create jobs and homes.

The conference was organised by Eden Council chief executive Robin Hooper as part of efforts to foster a better understanding between landowners, developments and land agents.

It was aimed at getting development moving despite the challenging economic climate of the UK just emerging from the double-dip recession which has stifled much development work.

The event was at capacity, attracting 60 delegates.

Dr Hooper, who was another of the speakers, said: “The underlying message that came out was that only with the development industry, landowners and the council working together can development really move forward, especially in today’s financial climate.

“The event provided an opportunity for an open discussion for all parties. Through the sharing of knowledge and experience, it will provide a more solid foundation on which to take forward development proposals for the future.

“The immediate feedback from those who attended the seminar this week was that they would like another event to take place in 2013.”

Other speakers at the event included Gwyn Clark, Eden Council’s director of planning and senior planning officer Paul Fellows.

Eden will consult on plans for housing allocations in the district early next year, with consultation on preferred sites for business development following that.

The conference was held as a lobbying group warned that Cumbria’s housing market was in danger of becoming unsustainable and urged local authorities to free up land for development.

The National Housing Federation (NHF) claims rent rates in the private sector are increasing faster than house prices.

And it has predicted that some Cumbrians could be forced to fork out an extra £200 a month to landlords within the next eight years.

The construction industry lobbying group also claims that rising costs – fuelled by a shortage of homes – may force thousands more to ask the Government for help to pay their way.

It has warned that the scenario means the county’s housing market could become “unsustainable”.

In its Home Truths 2012 report, which analyses and forecasts England’s housing market, the NHF claims rent rates could rise by a third by 2020.

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