Let developers build
[Re: First time buyers flock to the market, yesterday]
While the housebuilding industry is no doubt in recovery mode, the biggest barrier to meeting the housing needs of a growing population is ingrained opposition to development. Last year’s planning reforms appear to be having some modest impact, but to build the 250,000 new homes we desperately need, more needs to be done. Economists are right that government schemes, like Help to Buy, interfere with the market. But they do not take into account that the reason these are required is because the market is already dysfunctional. Planning policy thwarts development, hindering the supply of new homes. Undersupply pushes up prices. Developers would welcome a normalised system, where increased supply could lower demand and contain prices, as this would lower the values land is currently commanding. I want to double the number of homes I’m building in the next three to five years, but I can only do that if planning authorities and local communities support new homes. Less than 10 per cent of England’s surface area is developed, so we need to get over the mentality that our green and pleasant land is under siege. If we don’t want a generation of young people excluded from home ownership, we need to start seeing development as an opportunity, not a threat.
Bob Weston, chairman and managing director, Weston Homes Plc
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