This housing chief thinks EU regulation protecting newts is holding back housebuilders

Helen Cahill
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The complex planning system makes housebuilding more difficult (Source: Getty)

Housebuiding in the UK is being held back by newts and other animals protected by EU regulation, one leading housebuilder has said.

John Tutte, chief executive of housebuilder Redrow, has said that "we haven't got a shortage" of great-crested newts. But, due to shortages in places such as Spain, the amphibians are protected by EU regulation.

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Any developers looking to build in the UK must comply with planning permission rules that protect newts and other wildlife. Redrow has said it would embrace any change in regulation that would allow for more houses to be built.

Many developers have argued that, aside from EU regulation, the UK's cumbersome planning system is one of the biggest barriers to housebuilding. Not only are the regulations complex, government cuts mean that local authorities are less able to deal with them.

The Home Builders Federation has said that the UK's planning system is the primary cause of housing shortages. Since 1991, local authorities have had complete control of the location of new homes being constructed.

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"It has minimised land allocated and released for residential development," the HBF said in its Autumn Statement submission. "As a result, house building levels have been unable to respond to market demand, leading to housing delivery being artificially suppressed for 25 years."

The planning system makes it particularly difficult for small and medium housebuilders to flourish, because they cannot handle the risk and cost associated with getting planning permission.

According to the HBF, the number of small and medium housebuilders has fallen by 80 per cent since 1988, damaging the industry's ability to innovate, and its capacity to provide the homes that Britain needs.

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