Developers blamed for UK’s housing crisis

Poole-based property developer Richard Carr is annoyed and disappointed to read that developers are being blamed for the country’s housing supply crisis.


Richard Carr skyline image

Property Developers aren’t to blame for the housing crisis

Richard Carr has been in the industry for three decades and believes the problems start and end with the government and the restrictions that they place on developers, which slow down and prevent properties being built.

However, after analysing recent research independent think-tank Civitas has claimed that councils have granted enough planning consents to meet the government’s target of building one million new homes by 2020.

Civitas’ editorial director, Daniel Bentley, told “Local authority planning departments have been under enormous pressure in recent years and are frequently blamed by developers for holding up housebuilding.

“But what these figures show is that councils are issuing planning permissions in greater numbers than at any time for at least a decade. The bigger problem, and what lies at the root of our housing shortage, is that landowners and developers are not getting approved sites built out quickly enough.

“The answer to this must lie in changing the incentives for landowners and developers, including the imposition of contractual obligations that ensure residential development proceeds within a certain timeframe.

“This in turn will mean giving local authorities much greater bargaining power in negotiations with builders over new developments.”


The think-tank produced a number of statistics which supports their claim:

  • Planning permission has been awarded in England for 2,035,835 housing units between 2006 and 2015. That is an average of 204,000 new homes a year, an annual rate sufficient to meet the government’s housebuilding target for this parliament of one million homes by 2020
  • Starts recorded by the government during the same 10-year period numbered only 1,261,350, however: an average of just 126,000 a year. This means that there have been 774,485 more permissions than starts, equivalent to 77,000 a year for the period
  • This shortfall has been growing wider over the past five years. A significant increase in the number of planning permissions granted since 2011 has not been matched by a comparable increase in starts or completions;
  • In the past two years (2014 and 2015), some 500,956 units have received permission, in line with the 250,000 homes a year that most housing economists think England needs as a minimum. In neither of those two years did recorded starts get above 140,000, however, little more than half of what has been approved
  • Last year (2015) there were 261,644 homes permitted for development, but just 139,680 recorded starts. This is a deficit of 121,964, the biggest by far over the 10-year period analysed and almost twice the level it was in 2010.

Richard Carr believes that developers are being unfairly targeted and that the statistics don’t reflect a true picture of being in the industry and the challenges that face many developers and home builders.

He believes that the think-tank doesn’t understand how the system works, adding that a lot of applications are strategic and a lot more have been shaved down the local planning authorities that are not fundable!


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