Responding to the Government’s consultation on the Planning for the Future White Paper, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has reported that one in three builders want the planning system reformed to help boost construction activity and boost local economies.
The FMB asked its membership of small to medium-sized (SME) house builders what single thing Government could do to support them to reach pre-coronavirus levels of activity, with 1 in 3 singling out reform of the planning system.
This figure emerges against a background of a marked decline in the number of small house builders. In the 1980s 40% of all new homes were built by SME house builders but that figure has now fallen to just 12%.
This vital aspect of the market not only delivers regular houses, but 50% of these SME house builders work on custom and self build homes, constructing homes to owner’s specifications. Despite this, NaCSBA believes that many of these SME house builders do not see themselves as active members of self build sector.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The Government cannot reach its target of building 300,000 new homes a year without reversing the decline in SME house builders. To help bring more SMEs into the housing market the planning system needs to be quicker and more efficient. The introduction of an Ofsted-style rating system for local authority planning departments would help assist this aim.”
Berry concluded: “Land availability is another key issue for SME house builders. There are far too few small sites available for local house builders who typically build just a handful of new homes each year. To help make more small sites available Homes England should be ensuring public land disposals provide a greater proportion of small parcels of land aimed at small housebuilders.”