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UNDER STRICT EMBARGO UNTIL 00:01 Tuesday 13th December 2016
Planning cuts make housing targets impossible, says new FMB/LGiU research
Nearly 90% of local authorities believe that the Government’s housing targets will be impossible to meet due to a lack of planning resources, according to a new joint research report from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU).
The report, which is the first of its kind to draw upon the experience of both local authorities and SME house builders from right across the UK, also found that:
- 64% of builders and 45% of local authorities see lack of planning resources as a barrier to developing more small sites
- More than half of councils deliver fewer than 40% of homes on small sites
- Builders and local authorities call for councils to be allowed to raise planning application fees.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The Government aim to build one million new homes by 2020 won’t be realised unless more SME house builders can enter the housing market. That’s why the barriers that SME house builders currently face need to be removed. We know that the availability of suitable small sites and the difficulty getting planning permission on them are two of the biggest barriers these firms face. In this research, both local authorities and SME builders identify under-resourcing as a key barrier to allocating more small sites and getting planning permissions in place on them. Too often small sites are dealt with entirely by inexperienced officers. There simply aren’t enough senior and experienced planners to make the system work effectively.”
Berry concluded: “Planning departments need a cash injection and we therefore urge the Government to take on board concerns shared by both builders and councils and to allow local authorities the power to increase planning fees. Most small local developers are so concerned by the level of service provided by resource-stripped planning departments, they would be happy to foot the bill, provided the raised fees are ring-fenced and result in an improved service. The Government deserves some credit for the priority it is now placing on house building, but unless planning departments have enough experienced planners on the ground, our housing targets will be nothing more than aspirational.”
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive, LGiU, said: “There is a large untapped potential in small sites, but resource and capacity pressures in planning departments make it difficult to unlock. We need new approaches and new partnerships to build the homes we need. By working with a wider range of local builders, councils can stimulate local economic growth, while providing jobs and training for young people in the area.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
About the report ‘Small is beautiful: Delivering more homes through small sites’
The report is a unique collaboration between local government and the SME building sector, looking at some of the barriers to enabling small scale development and how these might be overcome. It draws together evidence from surveys of 91 local authority officials and elected members and 108 SME house builders, roundtable discussions involving both parties, and a series of interviews with planning officers.
About the Federation of Master Builders
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry representing thousands of firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms, the FMB is independent and non-profit making, lobbying for members’ interests at both the national and local level. The FMB is a source of knowledge, professional advice and support for its members, providing a range of modern and relevant business building services to help them succeed. The FMB is committed to raising quality in the construction industry and offers a free service to consumers called ‘Find a Builder’. Please visit www.fmb.org.uk.
About the Local Government Information Unit
The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is a think tank and membership body with 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visit lgiu.org.
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The FMB constantly lobbies Government at all levels to boost output and raise standards of safety and professionalism in construction. To keep abreast of our campaigns and news, and to join the debate, follow us at twitter.com/fmbuilders or like us at www.facebook.com/FederationofMasterBuilders