Planning red tape is preventing small and medium sized housebuilders who put up between 10 and 30 units per year (SMEs) from contributing towards the government’s housing figures. Planning procedures are still too complex which results in SMEs having to spend unjustly excessive amounts due to planning delays or knock backs disproportionately to their larger counterparts. In addition to this they are still struggling with access to finance, procurement regulations, land availability and compliance with regulations and technical standards.
Philip Hammond pledged to more than double financial support, but legislators need to take urgent action to change the regulatory situation and stem the decline in the number of SMEs, which has fallen by 50% since 2008.
Unfortunately phase one of the Letwin Review*, which has just been published, doesn’t cover the impact that regulation and regulatory costs are continuing to have on SMEs. Although citing that larger sites are more likely to have a positive effect on affordability and play an important part in solving the housing crisis, it does not discount the contribution that smaller sites can make.
In support of this Stewart Baseley, executive chair of the House Builders Federation, recently agreed that in order to build more homes more land needs to pass through the planning system quicker and should encompass a broader range of sites.
*The Letwin Review is an independent government appraisal; its purpose is to identify the cause of the gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned in areas of high housing demand.