A new report has revealed government housing targets cannot be reached, and cuts to planning department resources are to blame
The research found almost 90 per cent of local authorities believe housing targets set by the government are simply unattainable. This, councils said, was due to cuts to planning departments, which has left a lack of resources in place.
The report focused upon the experiences of both local authorities and SME housebuilders, as well as planning officers. It found planning was seen as a significant barrier to developing smaller housing sites. In fact, over half of councils reported delivering fewer than 40 per cent of homes on small sites.
Government housing targets will not be realised without SME builders
Chief executive of the FMB Brian Berry 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.
“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.”
Small housing developers said they would be willing to pay more fees on planning applications, providing it improves the services offered by council planning departments. Resources need to be in place to ensure small development sites can be delivered.
LGiU’s chief executive Jonathan Carr-West said: “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.”
Recommendations of the report
Suggestions of the report included looking at how relationships can be strengthened between small builders, planning authorities, and landowners. It also called for the establishment of a government Small Sites Expert Task Force to develop best practice to help small sites navigate the planning system.