It has been revealed in a survey conducted by the Federation of Master Buildings (FMB) and the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) that almost 90% of local authorities believe that the housing targets released by the government are unrealistic and impossible to meet, due to a significant lack of planning resources.
The survey included the opinions of 91 local authorities and 108 SME builders across the UK, with 64% of builders and 45% of local authorities believing that the previous cuts made to the planning departments is the main barrier for developing more small sites.
“That’s why the barriers that SME house builders currently face need to be removed” commented Brian Berry, the chief executive of the FMB. “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. 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.”
The survey also found that 55% of councils claimed that the quality of applications is often poor, with 79% of SME builders describing the planning system as too heavy-handed and 80% saying that local authorities do not proactively communicate or engage with them.
“There is a large untapped potential in small sites, but resource and capacity pressures in planning departments make it difficult to unlock” commented Jonathan Carr-West, the chief executive at LGiU. “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.”
So it appears things need to change in order for the government to realistically achieve its housing targets, but whether anything will be done only time will tell.