Builders blame planning on housing supply issues

Builders blame planning on housing supply issues

Housebuilders have blamed the lack of housing supply on the planning process.

Speaking to the House of Lords economic affairs committee representatives of the construction industry said the effect of planning was to “ration” housing.

Over the course of the committee’s inquiry into the economics of the UK housing market it has been told 250,000 homes a year need to be built to meet demand.

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Jennie Daly, UK land director of Taylor Wimpey, said: “What we have found is that from the very start of the process local authorities are trying to surpress the level of housing requirement they need to find locally. That’s then rolled into the local plan process in terms site allocation.

“We have an authority seeking to achieve the minimum, they are allocating sites that are probably just capable of meeting that number. They are rationing their housing allocations.

“We are finding increasingly that local planning authorities are woefully underresourced. The processing of planning applications has slowed in itself.

“We have a system that is rationing the supply of housing from the very start and then if anything happens, if there are viability issues, if there are technical issues there is no buffer in the system so rather than having 100 per cent there is constant erosion of the amount of housing that actually then arrives on site.”

She added that it was not in a house builder’s interests to build up land banks of sites which were not being developed.

Ms Daly said: “As we really don’t know what’s going to happen in the forward market we have got a significant fiscal lag on our balance sheet from buying land and the only way we are going to secure that return is building into the market we can see.

“House price inflation is with us currently but it is not secure and not something we can bank on. We would be incentivised to return our capital for reinvestment.”

John Stewart, director of economic affairs at the Home Builders Federation, said: “Up until the 1980s private house building was very responsive to demand and then from the early 1990s onwards that was completely taken away.

“The plan-led system introduced in 1991 has had a very serious impact. It has gone from being driven by the private sector finding land and bringing it forward to local authorities rationing and controlling the supply of land.

“The tragedy was that was at the very time that state house building stopped. To me that is absolutely the root cause of most of our problems.”

JD We would perceive that as being quite problematic. If we have a legally implementable consent it is in our interests to implement that consent.

It is not in our interests to allow planning permissions to expire because they are costly and time consuming endeavours.