Housing Committee right to support funding boost for planning departments

Brian Berry, is chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders
Brian Berry, is chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders

The government should bring forward extra funding for local authority planning departments to help speed up the planning process, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee report on ‘The future of the planning system’.

The report considers the government’s proposed reforms to the planning system announced in August 2020. It also builds on the predecessor committee’s report into land value capture.

In the report, the Committee said there is a need for additional resources for planning departments and specialist skills. The pressures on the system will only increase if the government proceeds with its reforms, including the thirty-month timeframe for Local Plans, at the same time as local planning authorities also operating the current system.

The report added that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government should now seek to obtain a Treasury commitment for an additional £500 million over four years for local planning authorities. Providing this certainty of funding should precede the introduction of the Planning Bill.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “I strongly support the Housing Committee’s calls for the government to bring forward an additional £500 million over the next four years for local authority planning departments. This will help address significant delays in the planning process that are disproportionately impacting our smallest house builders. Almost one in two small to medium-sized (SME) house builders say that the planning system is one of the biggest constraints on their ability to build more homes.

“My members tell me that they typically wait one year for a determination on a small site. These statistics are unacceptable in the face of a national housing shortage, and when we are far from reaching the government’s targets of building 300,000 new homes a year. We will only achieve this target by reversing the decline in SME house builders who once built 40% of new homes, but now just 12%.”