17 August, 2011

The current Government consultation on planning policy is absolutely vital to the country's future prosperity and social and economic wellbeing. It is therefore imperative that the debate is not hijacked by scaremongering from narrow minded anti-growth groups.

The consultation into the draft National Planning and Policy Framework will ultimately provide the 'nuts and bolts' detail on the new planning system and the new style local plans that will dictate what is built where.

With the country experiencing an acute housing crisis, that is having social implications in all areas and stunting economic growth, sensible debate encompassing all perspectives must be allowed. (See below for stats on housing crisis.)

The draft NPPF empowers local people, businesses and charities to shape growth in their communities. It strikes a balance between economic growth, a presumption in favour of sustainable development and existing environmental protection.

It does not in any way threaten the greenbelt, as many media reports, influenced by anti-growth groups masquerading as environmentalists have suggested. Green belt continues to receive the highest level of protection as with current policy.

Stewart Baseley, executive chair of the Home Builders Federation said today;

"This is the most important planning policy since the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947. It is vital we have a sensible debate and ensure we get it right. Scaremongering by anti-growth groups has resulted in negative reports and a false impression that threatens to stunt constructive discussion over how to shape and guide development in the future. We have an acute housing crisis that has resulted in millions living in sub standard accommodation or on waiting lists and young people unable to buy their own home. To address this we need a planning system that balances social, economic and environmental concerns. The ongoing debate must focus on the wider needs of the country, not the narrow focus of a few."

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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 300 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:

Useful stats

Permissions for fewer than 34,000 new homes were approved in Q1 in England, compared with 40,000 in Q1 2010 and against a quarterly housing requirement of nearly 60,000 based on the Government's household projections. In Q1 2006 over 60,000 permissions were granted by local authorities

1.8 million families (5 million people) are currently on Local Authority waiting lists in England.

FTBs aged between 22 and 29 have to save 45% of their take home pay every month for five years to afford a deposit

The number of households is projected to grow from 21.7m in 2008 to 27.5m in 2033, a rise of 5.8m (27%), or 232,000 per year. (DCLG Household Formation Projections.)

Jobs Calculator:

o   Each home built creates 1.5 full-time jobs -Michael Ball report

o   Increasing house-building by 130,000 units per year (to Government household projection levels) would create 195,000 jobs.

o   HBF estimates twice that number of jobs are created in the supply chain - close to 400,000 jobs.

Over the last three years, home builders have invested almost £1billion in shared equity schemes to help maintain housing construction whilst helping close to 30,000 first time buyers get a foot on the ladder.

HBF's Housing Market Report (May'11) shows that 91% of house builders now see the lack of mortgage availability as a 'major constraint;' on their ability to sell, and thus build, homes

According to Government figures, even in its current crisis state, housing supply accounts for around 3% of UK GDP and provides between 1 and 1.25 million jobs in the UK.

In February, Local Authorities learnt for the first time how much they will receive from developing. Some will gain over £4M in New Homes Bonus whilst others will receive nothing. The figures also show that some Local Authorities will in future be missing out on up to £27M a year by scrapping previous plans for homes or not building enough to meet the needs of their communities.

The number of new homes completed in England in 2010 slumped 13% on the previous year - itself the lowest peacetime number on record since 1923.

18% of females and 29% males aged 20-34 still live with parents - ONS social trends Or; Over 1 million women and 1.7 million men aged between 20 and 34 are still living at home

The average age of a first time buyer (FTB) purchasing a home without financial assistance is now 37.

Whilst over 80% of people believe Britain needs more homes, particularly for first time buyers, only 50% of people would welcome more homes in their area - NHMB survey, Nov 2010.