Industry calls for faster planning and SME help in autumn statement

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is urging ministers to reduce bureaucracy in the planning system

The house-building industry is calling upon the government to use its autumn statement to boost housing supply, improve the planning system to deliver quicker planning permissions and support smaller housebuilders.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) is urging ministers to reduce bureaucracy in the planning system so that implementable permissions can be turned out more quickly. It said that despite the increase in planning permissions, “the time taken to get permissions to the stage where work can actually start on site is still taking far too long.”

HBF also wishes to see measures in the Autumn statement that will benefit developers building 100 units or fewer. Bureaucracy and complexities in the system have disproportionately hit developers of this size, HBF said, contributing to their numbers shrinking 78% between 1988 and 2013.

In its autumn statement submission, HBF has asked the government to carry out various measures to make sure the above happens, including:

–  Ensuring  local authority planning departments are adequately resourced to deliver an efficient service and outsource work

–  Introducing a Principle of Development certificate which would simplify the planning process and reduce risks for start ups and small firms

–  Cutting red tape and the wider regulatory burden on smaller developers. The impact of the Housing Standards Review should be carefully considered here, HBF said

–  Considering a government backed development funding guarantee scheme for SME builders

–  Ensuring that local authorities release smaller sites when allocating land for housing development to increase delivery rates and provide a level playing field for start-ups and SMEs

HBF has also called upon the government to address industry recruitment in the Autumn statement, as well as review Stamp Duty thresholds and look at introducing incentives for older people to downsize, thus boosting retirement housebuilding.

HBF’s executive chairman Stewart Baseley said: “The Autumn Statement provides Government with a real opportunity to give housing supply a boost.

“We also need to see more help given to smaller developers, whose numbers have collapsed in recent years due largely to rising planning and regulatory cost. If we are to build 200,000 plus homes a year, all parts of the industry need to deliver and we need more players on the pitch.”

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