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White paper should be good for builders, says FMB

The Housing White Paper, released yesterday (February 7) should boost the opportunities available to SME house builders, the Federation of Master Builders  has said .

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “I’m pleased that the White Paper recognises the potential for SMEs to deliver far more homes than they do currently. In addition, it accurately identifies the key barriers to them doing so as land, planning and finance. Of these, finding small sites and then getting planning permission is the greatest single barrier. In too many places, the approach to planning for new homes has come to be focused almost entirely on large sites and large scale delivery. This approach has slowed down the delivery of homes, and has helped shape an uncompetitive house building industry and an unresponsive supply of housing – this has to end.

 “The proposal in the White Paper to take forward a presumption in favour of small scale development of sorts  is a huge step forward. So too is the proposal to encourage permissions on so-called windfall sites, that is sites not allocated in local plans. Smaller windfall sites must be seen as critical elements in the supply of land and new housing, not as awkward add-ons. Furthermore, plans to boost resources for planning departments could be used to provide an adrenalin shot to a planning system which has been running on near-empty for too long now.

 

“There is much that is good and sensible in the White Paper so let’s use it as a launch pad for a real step change in delivery. Local authorities are set to be given more resources and more powers. However, the targets arising from the new housing delivery tests, against which councils will be measured, will not be met with a continued over-reliance on large developers and large sites. If a local authority fails to meet its targets it could lose control over its own planning policy and the threat of this should be provide the impetus for councils to push more small sites through the system. It is in everyone’s interest to see SMEs play a far greater role in house building and small sites are key to this.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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