Housing targets impossible

Nearly 90% of local authorities believe that the government’s housing targets will be impossible to meet due to a lack of planning resources, according to a new joint research report from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU).

The report, which is the first of its kind to draw upon the experience of both local authorities and SME house builders from right across the UK, also found that: 64% of builders and 45% of local authorities see lack of planning resources as a barrier to developing more small sites; More than half of councils deliver fewer than 40% of homes on small sites; and builders and local authorities call for councils to be allowed to raise planning application fees.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The government’s aim to build one million new homes by 2020 won’t be realised unless more SME housebuilders can enter the housing market. That’s why the barriers that SME house builders currently face need to be removed.

“We know that the availability of suitable small sites and the difficulty getting planning permission on them are two of the biggest barriers these firms face. In this research, both local authorities and SME builders identify under-resourcing as a key barrier to allocating more small sites and getting planning permissions in place on them. Too often small sites are dealt with entirely by inexperienced officers. There simply aren’t enough senior and experienced planners to make the system work effectively.”

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of LGiU, said: “We need new approaches and new partnerships to build the homes we need. By working with a wider range of local builders, councils can stimulate local economic growth, while providing jobs and training for young people in the area.”