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28 Nov
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Will the Autumn Statement bring a warmer climate for the planning system?

Housebuilders are hoping that the Autumn Statement, to be announced on Wednesday 3rd December, will be used by the government to boost housing supply, improve the planning system to deliver quicker planning permissions and support smaller housebuilders.

It is considered that the current planning system is restricted by bureaucracy which unnecessarily prevents implementable permissions being delivered quickly, subsequently suppressing the housebuilding industry. The Home Builders Federation (HBF) this week expressed their views on the matter, ‘the time taken to get permissions to the stage where work can actually start on site is still taking for too long’.

The HBF also expressed the view that the Autumn Statement should introduce measures to benefit and encourage developers wishing to build 100 units or fewer, as current processes and complexities have unfairly hit developers of this size, contributing to their decline in numbers. This proposed measure is supported, as the more developers involved in the delivery of homes, the more likely it is that the number of homes required across the UK to address growing need will be delivered.

Certain measures, which will see a brighter future for the planning system to ensure the removal of obstructive bureaucracy, should be included within the Autumn statement next week. The HBF identifies that the following measures should be introduced by the government:

  • Local authority planning departments should be adequately resourced to deliver an efficient service and have the opportunity to outsource work where necessary;
  • The introduction of a Principle of Development certificate would simplify the overall planning process and reduce the risks for start-ups and smaller firms, thereby encouraging SMEs to enter the housebuilding industry;
  • Reducing the amount of red tape which currently exists and imposes a regulatory burden on smaller developers;
  • A government backed development funding guarantee scheme for SME builders;
  • Ensure local authorities release smaller sites when allocating land for housing development, which will serve to increase delivery rates and provide opportunities for start-ups and SMEs;
  • A review of the Stamp Duty thresholds currently imposed;
  • The introduction of incentives for older people to downsize, which will in turn boost the retirement housebuilding industry.

The Autumn Statement provides the Coalition government with the opportunity to boost housing supply across the UK, in advance of next year’s general election. The question is will they seize the opportunity to improve the planning system and allow the faster delivery of planning permissions, encouraging development?

The opportunity to provide the tools to help smaller developers is also promising. If housebuilders are to deliver anywhere near the 200,000 plus homes a year required, it will be of great importance that all parts of the industry are working together towards a common goal.  At the moment the missing link appears to be the government and the planning system they currently endorse.

When the Autumn Statement is delivered on Wednesday 3rd December, we will update you further on the measures to be introduced and how these will affect the housebuilding industry moving forward.

In the meantime, if you have any projects which you would like to discuss with us at NJL get in touch.

Image used courtesy of altogetherfool on Flickr.


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