Builders blame slow planning for homes crisis

Chris Papadopoullos
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SKILLS shortages, sluggish planning approvals and local opposition are hindering the UK’s builders and exacerbating the country’s housing supply crisis, new research reveals.

To revive Britain’s home building, planning experts have today called for a new national approach to housing policy as a “matter of urgency”.

In a survey of construction firms, slow planning was cited by 46 per cent of firms as being a key hurdle to developments. Local opposition and a lack of skilled workers were identified as key barriers by 42 and 25 per cent of firms respectively.

The research, conducted by Lloyds Bank, underscores the challenge faced by policy makers in boosting the nation’s level of house building.

Some recently introduced policies such as plans to grant automatic planning permission for building projects on disused industrial sites were praised by the industry.

The government needs to consider bringing housing within the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime as “a matter of urgency”, a report from law firm Bond Dickinson and planning consultants Quod said today.

The report says that there is a “clear imperative for central government to show strong political leadership in driving large-scale housing development in the national public interest”.

It says that the use of the NSIP regime, which has led to the consent of over 40 nationally significant infrastructure projects since its establishment in 2008, could harness the power of the private sector and “relieve hard-pressed local authority budgets”.

“This is a national crisis which needs a national solution. The principles of localism are laudable but the current planning system simply doesn’t ensure that local authorities will deliver housing on the scale we need,” said Kevin Gibbs, a partner at Bond Dickinson.

“There is a clear imperative for central government to lift restrictions on housing delivery and show strong political leadership in driving large-scale housing development in the national public interest.”