Cutting red tape will help ease housing crisis

Real Estate Specialist Belinda Laurance hit the nail on the head when writing for propertyweek.com, writes property specialist Richard Carr.

Red Tape

Richard Carr new housing developments

Will cutting red tape help housebuilders?

Like many house builders, developers and construction firms, Richard is awaiting the verdict from the government’s Red Tape Review, which is looking into the barriers developers face in getting planning permissions approved and in good time.

Richard agrees with Belinda’s statement within her column where she states: “effective reforms are essential in facilitating the efficient and timely delivery of housing developments.”

Richard Carr hopes to see a relaxation in some of the taxes that developers are currently faced with, he believes the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is outdated and should either be replaced or scrapped.

Delays

Under resourced local planning authorities are also a major concern to Richard, a feeling shared by Belinda who explained:

“While it typically takes 13 weeks for a planning decision to be reached, glitches in the system or a lack of communication between officers and the members of the planning committee can cause undue delays or for an application to be refused unexpectedly. This can be financially devastating for small developers, who are often backed by third party funding and held accountable to tight delivery deadlines.”

Increasing transparency and consistency along with clear standards of design and technical specifications are some of the measures that Belinda feels could be introduced. However, Richard feels her idea to fast-track applications which were initially refused on the grounds of a minor issue would be highly beneficial.

Investment

Recently, ministers proposed introducing ‘premium rates’ for planning applications, which would seemingly allow developers with plenty of cash to fast-track their applications. However, as Belinda points out, local planning authorities are already running at 100% and she – like Richard – doubts if they would be able to cope:

“Although incentivising local authorities to progress applications quicker would be a step in the right direction, many planning departments are already running at full capacity. Funding for recruitment, training and retention must be set aside if a real improvement is to be achieved.”

Richard Carr wants to see the government back the industry and make it easier for developers and house builders to meet David Cameron’s housing target.