Changes to these three areas would have the greatest positive effect on SME house builders, according to United Trust Bank’s poll of brokers.
Noel Meredith, executive director of United Trust Bank (pictured), said: “Time and again developers large and small tell us that their biggest frustration is with the UK’s under-invested planning system and unfortunately the challenges seem to be greater for SMEs.
“As well as the high cost of obtaining planning permissions, development can also be constrained by local political agendas and nimbyism which can create uncertainty for developers who need certainty when they’re expected to commit considerable capital to new building projects.
“Changing the classification of a small site to include those with up to 20 units, or at least demonstrating some flexibility to recognise when sites are clearly SME projects, would also help to alleviate the bureaucratic burden on smaller housebuilders.”
Simplify the system
Meredith added that a Help to Plan initiative supporting new smaller housebuilders through the planning process also has some merit, although it would be preferable to see the whole system simplified and improved rather than committing money and resource to helping new house builders negotiate.
He continued: “Accusations of land banking levelled at national house builders were largely quashed by the recent Letwin Review although there’s some evidence that the volume builders are managing completions to meet demand rather than flood the market. It’s hard to criticise this position.
“However, the lack of skilled construction workers, specifically bricklayers, was seen as having a more negative impact on the UK reaching its new homes target than housebuilders acquiring sites for future development.
“Brexit uncertainty won’t help to fill the labour shortage and the aim is to attract and train 15,000 new bricklayers over the next five years. That’s a big ask from the industry,” he added.