Affordable Housing, Real Estate

Secretary of State for Housing pledges planning reform green paper later this year

Home builders have welcomed a pledge from the Government to reduce planning delays, increase the capability of local planning departments and improve procedure to accelerate the end to end planning process.

Secretary of State for Housing, James Brokenshire told the Home Builders Federation’s policy conference that quality counts and it is not simply about getting the numbers up.

But he pointed out that for the first time in 10 years home ownership amongst 35 to 44 year olds is up and in 2018 more new homes were built than in any other year bar one of the previous 31.

‘I don’t want to tell people what to build, but I do want to ensure that the next generation of homes we build are ones of which we can be proud. And I know that there are a number of developers who are delivering on this, who are following through on this, and I think are setting that lead for the industry but we cannot be blind to the wider challenges the industry faces,’ he told the conference.

‘Businesses need to make money to be viable, absolutely yes. But the public looks at some companies’ profits and bonuses and wonders how they tally with extensive snagging, unfair leases and a seeming lack of understanding of the responsibility they have towards customers who are left struggling and out of pocket,’ he pointed out.

‘For most people, buying a home is one of the biggest financial and emotional investments of their lives and for that to go from being a cherished dream to becoming a nightmare of snagging problems months after moving in, and punitive costs, is simply unacceptable,’ he added.

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Brokenshire also explained that as well as good quality homes, new homes need to be built faster and to do that there needs to be a reduction in planning delays that hold up good developments.

He revealed that the Accelerated Planning green paper, mentioned in the Spring Statement, will be published later this year to look at how greater capacity and capability within local planning authorities, better performance management and procedural improvements can accelerate the end-to-end planning process for all.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, welcomed he address. ‘The housing crisis is the greatest challenge to social equality that we have in the UK. The Government must prioritise it. By building more and understanding how we physically get more quality homes built, we can make really positive changes to our communities,’ he said.

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the House Builders Association, explained that when Ministers utter the words, planning reform, the industry gets quite excited.

‘Getting permission to build is a painful, slow and desperate process, especially for SMEs. Reforming it will go a long way to helping solve the housing and skills crisis,’ he added.

Source: PropertyWire

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