Talking to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, chairman Steve Morgan said the biggest barrier to new houses was the planning system. Land banking to maximise profits was ‘completely incorrect’, he said.
The long-awaited consultation on the government’s strategy to fix the UK’s ‘broker’ housing market, unveiled yesterday, said there would be increased transparency around which companies and individuals were buying land suitable for housing then not building on it.
Redrow released its half-year results today, revealing a 35% increase in pre-tax profits to £140m. Redow’s H1 period covers July to December. It also recorded an 18% rise in its current land bank to 25,300 plots. Its completions rose by 13% to 2,459.
Morgan said the problem was length of time it took to move from outline permission, where the council agrees the land is okay for housing, to when the builder is given the green light to start work.
“This can take normally one year, but up to two years,” Morgan said of the 25,300 plots it has in its bank, it is struggling to get one-third of them on site.
He blamed the planning process from dissuading smaller builders from doing more.
“It’s not so bad for the big builders like us, but small companies face a wall of bureaucracy. If I was starting out today, I could not build up Redrow as I did,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
Under the proposals, local authorities will be given funding to develop their planning and planning departments.
Powers to force housebuilders to surrender land if construction has not begun two years after planning permission was granted, were also proposed. This currently stands at three years. Morgan said given the time it took to currently grant build permission from the initial outline, this would make many projects impossible.