Councils warn of impossible housing targets

A new report has warned that nearly 90 per cent of local authorities believe that current housing targets will be impossible to meet because of a lack of planning resources.

Jointly authored by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the report discovered that 64 per cent of builders and 45 per cent of local authorities see lack of planning resources as a barrier to developing small sites.

Additionally, over half of councils deliver fewer than 40 per cent of homes on small sites

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The government aim to build one million new homes by 2020 won’t be realised unless more SME housebuilders can enter the housing market. That’s why the barriers that SME house builders currently face need to be removed.

“We know that the availability of suitable small sites and the difficulty getting planning permission on them are two of the biggest barriers these firms face. In this research, both local authorities and SME builders identify under-resourcing as a key barrier to allocating more small sites and getting planning permissions in place on them. Too often small sites are dealt with entirely by inexperienced officers. There simply aren’t enough senior and experienced planners to make the system work effectively.”

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGiU, said: "There is a large untapped potential in small sites, but resource and capacity pressures in planning departments make it difficult to unlock. We need new approaches and new partnerships to build the homes we need. By working with a wider range of local builders, councils can stimulate local economic growth, while providing jobs and training for young people in the area.”