Invest in planning to help house building sector bounce back

As the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures reveal that new work in the private new housing sector declined by 17% in the three months to July 2020, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) says that the government must address the planning system, which is “the biggest headache for small to medium-sized (SME) housebuilders.”

The government must release bottlenecks in housing delivery with more resource for local authority planning departments and mechanisms to hold them to account if they are slow to respond to applications, according to the FMB.

This comes as the latest construction ONS data (issued on 11 September) reveals that new work in the private new housing sector declined by 17% in the three months to July 2020 – the sharpest fall of any sector.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Over the past year, the planning system has represented the biggest headache for small to medium-sized housebuilders. In a survey published by the FMB this week [10 September], almost half (48%) of SMEs say that the delays and costs they incur through navigating the system are limiting their capacity to build more homes. With anecdotal evidence suggesting builders are typically waiting one year for a decision on their application, it’s no surprise that new work in the private housing sector has dropped significantly in recent months.”

Brian concluded: “If the government is serious about meeting its target of building 300,000 new homes a year, it needs to bring in short-term measures that will stimulate supply. The Stamp Duty Land Tax Holiday has proved to be highly successful, but without a flow of new homes to meet demand, we only serve to compound the housing crisis and hike prices.”