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Consent delays hold back Scots house building

Words: Huw Morris
Scots house building
Delays to planning consent are the most significant barrier to new homes in Scotland, according to a survey of senior figures across house building by law firm Brodies.
Around 23,000 homes need to be built each year to keep up with the growing number of households in Scotland. Brodies polled house builders, developers, contractors, architects, professional advisers and funders. The law firm found the length of time taken to secure planning approval was cited by 47.5 per cent of respondents as the biggest barrier, with 37 per cent predicting it would continue to be the single largest problem in the next 12 months. Infrastructure constants and costs were cited by 20 per cent and access to development finance identified by 12 per cent respectively. A total of 37.5 of respondents called for a relaxation of planning restrictions as the biggest single measure to help boost house building. This was followed by public funding of new infrastructure cited by 31.5 per cent of respondents. A total of 34.5 per cent identified more funding for ‘help to buy’ type initiatives as a Scottish Government policy with the most positive impact on home building. Just under a third of respondents cited relaxing Section 75 and infrastructure requirements while 15 per cent called for house building finance to developers. Brodies’ head of planning, Neil Collar, who published research on planning reform in Scotland earlier this year, said: “This survey shows just how vital the planning system is to the delivery of new housing – developers across the country are experiencing delays in consenting and this is proving to be a significant hurdle. The findings chime with my recommendations earlier this year that the system for costing infrastructure upgrades needs to be speeded up, the amount of information required to obtain approval needs to be reduced, and the planning system needs leadership and proper resourcing.”