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Small and medium-sized builders cite planning setbacks for home delivery

Words: Huw Morris

Delays in securing planning permission or discharging conditions will be a big barrier to increasing housing delivery in the next 12 months, according to a survey of small and medium enterprise (SME) homebuilders.

The poll by the Home Builders Federation and development finance specialist Close Brothers Property Finance reveals that 83 per cent of SME builders cite planning delays as a major issue.

A total of 73 per cent also see a lack of resources in local authority planning departments as a major barrier.

An analysis of the findings said SMEs are disproportionately affected by planning setbacks as they may have their capital tied up in just one or two projects at a time. Lengthy delays can bring their businesses to a halt.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents claim their growth projections are down after the Covid-19 pandemic. Of this figure, 39 per cent of respondents state that their growth projections are down between 10-50 per cent, with 26 per cent seeing falls of up to 10 per cent.

“The threat to SME housebuilders following the Covid-19 pandemic is clear, and we now have to act to reverse the decline of this vitally important part of the housing market,” said Close Brothers Property Finance chief executive Frank Pennal.

“Not only do SME housebuilders provide a training ground for young apprentices and trainees, they are the lifeblood of regional property markets and safeguard diversity of design, skills and craftsmanship within the industry.”

Recent Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures showed building work had begun on 15,930 homes in the three months from April to the end of June, down from 33,188 between January and the end of March when Covid-19 restrictions were introduced.

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