Sunak states that he wants to help smaller developers by removing barriers hindering them from building new homes and has pledged to tackle land banking, however, the National Federation of Building’s housing and planning head, Rico Wojtulewicz said: “Rishi Sunak is doing what all politicians do and saying they want to help SME builders but offering no solutions to do so.”
The trade body is disappointed planning reforms backed by former housing minister Robert Jenrick to adopt a zonal approach to development have been ditched. Local authorities would have earmarked land for growth, renewal or protection. However, the reforms would have taken away residents’ rights to object to individual planning applications proving unpopular with backbenchers.
Wojtulewicz added, “These reforms would actually have helped SMEs but not only were they watered down after the government lost a byelection but all politicians are now walking away from them in case it costs them votes, even if there’s no proof it has.”
The NFB argues too much building on brownfield reduces the land available for non-housing needs such as offices, warehouses and hospitals leaving the option of doing without or building on greenbelt.
Sunak’s fears about the green belt are over-exaggerated according to the Centre of Policy Studies. It claims green belt land in England has more than doubled since 1979 covering more than ten times as much land as the country’s bricks and mortar stock.
The NFB is unhappy that both Sunak and Liz Truss have abandoned the 2019 manifesto pledge of 300,000 new homes to be built a year by the mid-2020s.
Wojtulewicz said, “The top-down target was introduced to get more homes built and it broadly worked or highlighted where failure was worst. Getting rid of it is admitting that votes matter more than the housing crisis. Neither candidate is showing any insight that they know how to solve the housing crisis.”
Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said the recent sharp rise in house prices proved demand exceeded supply and that development finance lenders wanted a quicker planning process to enable a speedier build-out of projects.