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Media

25 November, 2014

Use Autumn Statement to speed up the planning process and support small builders to boost housing numbers

House builders are calling on the Chancellor to use next week’s Autumn Statement to deliver a boost to housing supply.  HBF has recommended that Government improves the efficiency of the planning system so that it delivers more permissions, more quickly; and helps get more small builders – 4 out of 5 of whom have disappeared in 25 years – back ‘on to the pitch’ and delivering new homes. 

Whilst overall planning permissions are increasing, the time taken to get permissions to the stage where work can actually start on site is still taking far too long. HBF is calling on Government to cut the bureaucratic system so it can deliver ‘buildable’ or implementable permissions more quickly.

Building on recommendations made to Government over the summer, HBF has used its Autumn Statement submission to call on Government to;

  • Ensure Local Authority planning departments are adequately resourced to deliver an efficient service – and outsource work;
  • Introduce a Principle of Development certificate to simplify the planning process and reduce risks that freeze out start-ups and small firms
  • Introduce a proportionate, independent arbitration system to reduce the delays and costs that can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, of the current appeals system.

HBF is also calling for specific assistance for SME builders. Smaller builders have been disproportionality hit by bureaucracy and complexity in the system which has increased considerably over the last two decades. This has contributed to a 78% fall in the number of developers building 100 units or fewer in the period between 1988 and 2013. It is these companies that would benefit from the above changes in particular. HBF is therefore suggesting:

  • Government should cut red tape and the wider regulatory burden on smaller developers – and particular care must be taken when considering the impact of the Housing Standards Review
  • Look at a Government backed development funding guarantee scheme for SME builders
  • Ensure Local Authorities are releasing some smaller sites when allocating land for development to increase delivery rates and level the playing field for start-ups and SMEs

Speaking today, Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF said;

“The Autumn Statement provides Government with a real opportunity to give housing supply a boost. If the industry is to build more homes more quickly we must address the failings inherent in the current planning process. We need a system that is responsive to current housing needs and not one that acts as a constraint. The current system is too slow, overly complex and costly and must be improved.

“We also need to see more help given to smaller developers, whose numbers have collapsed in recent years due largely to rising planning and regulatory cost. If we are to build 200,000 plus homes a year, all parts of the industry need to deliver and we need more players on the pitch.”

In its Autumn Statement submission HBF is also calling for Government to;

  • Look at how it can support the industry to recruit the people it needs
  • Review the current Stamp Duty thresholds and the impact on the market and in-particular first time buyers
  • Look at how it can boost retirement house building by introducing incentives for older people to downsize.

For media enquiries, or to arrange an interview, please contact Steve Turner on 020 7960 1606 or 07919 307760. Steve.turner@hbf.co.uk  

Notes to editors

  1. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is the representative body of the home building industry in England and Wales. The HBF’s member firms account for some 80% of all new homes built in England and Wales in any one year, and include companies of all sizes, ranging from multi-national, household names through regionally based businesses to small local companies: www.hbf.co.uk