White paper reflects key role private house builders have in addressing ’broken housing market’
Measures in the White Paper to ensure Local Authorities abide by responsibilities to bring greater volumes of land for development forward more quickly and to assist SME builders, could tackle some of the biggest barriers to further increasing housing supply.
Huge progress is being made, with housing supply up 52% in the past three years, but further radical steps are required if the industry is to be able to meet the country’s housing requirements. Whilst presenting some challenges to the industry the White Paper recognises that it is the private sector house builders that will deliver the majority of the much needed homes in this country, and clearly aims to support them to deliver more sustained increases in supply.
In a ‘plan led system’ it is absolutely essential that all Local Authorities have an up-to-date plan for delivering the homes required and so moves to get the 60% who still don’t could be key. Having a plan in place provides certainty for all parties and allows coordinated and structured development to take place.
Plans for a new Housing Delivery Test will help to ensure that all parties are playing their part in building the homes communities need.Closer coordination and transparency at planning stage between builders and Local Authorities to accurately predict actual build out rates could be extremely beneficial and would allow Local Authorities to allocate the number of sites that would actually meet their housing need. The industry is committed to working with all parties on developing models to facilitate this. Doing so would increase the number of overall sites being allocated but in particular, the number of smaller ones so preventing Local Authorities hiding behind fewer large site allocations to meet their housing need. Reducing the number of conditions attached to a planning permission, in particular ones that unnecessarily prevent construction work starting, will also speed up delivery
We are keen to work with Government on proposals to reduce the time required for builders to start work once a permission is granted whilst ensuring they do not deter investment or the number of permissions. However, any sensible measure should not have an adverse impact on builders. Having spent considerable time, resource and money progressing sites through the planning system, once builders have an ‘implementable’ permission (one that allows them to start work) overwhelmingly they are doing so.
Moves to assist SME builders – in particular to simplify the planning and regulatory system and assist with financing – and with regards to allocating more smaller sites, will also help increase overall supply. The number of SME builders building has fallen by 80% in the past 25 years and the vast majority of the increases in output in recent years have been delivered by the large companies. If we are to continue to increase output then it is essential to increase the number of builders building.
The presumption in favour of development on brownfield land is something the industry has long called for. The industry supports the protection of the Green Belt but agrees that in areas where Local Authorities cannot identify sufficient land to provide the homes their communities need, they should be able to choose to amend their green belt boundaries.
The industry welcomes the Government commitment to support it on attracting and training the builders of the future. Via the Home Building Skills Partnership the industry is already making huge progress with regards to increasing its capacity but Government support will clearly be essential.
Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation said;
“The White Paper recognises that the private sector house building industry is key to addressing the chronic housing shortage we face and outlines steps to assist it deliver more homes. The industry is a major part of the solution and is committed to continued growth.
“Huge progress has been made in recent years in terms of increasing housing supply. If we are to build more homes and meet the country’s acute needs, all parties involved in housing supply must up their game.
“The industry is determined to meet the challenges laid down by Government and help deliver more homes more quickly. We will look to work with Government on the detail of the measures announced today to ensure they will lead to many more new homes being built in the coming years.
“Plans to speed up the planning process, bring forward more developable land and make Local Authorities abide by their responsibilities are key. If we are to build more homes, we need more land coming through the system more quickly. Measures that will allow SME builders to build more homes will increase the capacity of the industry and result in increases in overall supply.”
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Notes to editors
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