Bat boxes and playgrounds are holding back property development, says industry group

Helen Cahill
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The industry group has said plans for playgrounds could be agreed after construction has begun (Source: Getty)

A property industry group has called for changes to the planning system because bat boxes and playgrounds are holding back house building in the UK.

Housebuilders are forced to meet various conditions before building, called pre-commencement conditions, some of which are halting development unnecessarily, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) has said.

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Local authorities currently want to approve the design of children's playgrounds before building gets underway, but the HBF has argued that these issues can be ironed out after builders have started work, speeding up the process of creating new homes.

Consent for playgrounds and picnic tables could be placed under a pre-occupation condition instead, meaning the designs would have to be approved before people can live in the development. This would ensure the building process is not hampered by discussions over the finer design details of a development.

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The HBF welcomed recent figures showing that the number of planning permissions granted for new homes in the third quarter of 2017 was high, but said the industry was still struggling against tight regulations on building.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said: "It is encouraging that so many headline planning permissions are being granted but we simply have to find a way to unblock the system and reduce the time it takes to get a permission to the stage where builders can actually start building.

"Construction work shouldn't be held up by council officers getting round to approving designs for landscaping, playgrounds or ensuring developers are liaising with community artists. These could be agreed whilst infrastructure work gets started."

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