Planning delays reduce the demand for bricks

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Problems with the planning process have led to a decreased demand for bricks used in housebuilding, it has emerged…

Michelmersh Brick Holdings, the largest manufacturer of specialist bricks, has warned stamp duty on expensive properties, as well as delays in the planning process were the main reasons behind the fall in demand for bricks.

Chief Executive Martin Warner said: “Construction is down. We have seen it over the summer. If you talk to developers, one of the biggest problems is planning.

“The planning process is getting worse and worse rather than better.”

The firm said that while it had delivered fewer bricks than anticipated in the second half of the year, the prices were higher than budgeted. This means profits for the year ending 30 December are likely to exceed forecasts.

It has been a rollercoaster ride for the brick manufacturing sector. It was hit by the recession and then saw an increase in demand as the construction sector picked back up. Over the last two years increasing demand has seen the stockpile of bricks decline. The shortage has threatened the government’s housebuilding proposal. However, Warner said the planning process is now the biggest obstacle.

“It doesn’t do us too much harm to have a few more bricks in stock. We should be happy with where we are.”

He added: “People do get through planning eventually and the fundamental demand is there.”

Planning has undergone a series of reforms to streamline the process, including relaxing the process to encourage the construction of new homes.

“We price ahead of the game and bricks are still very cheap in the grand scheme of things. The average price of a brick is 32p which is less than the price of a Mars bar,” he said.

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