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The ability for councils to increase planning fees by 20% should increase house building by SMEs, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has said in response to the Government’s Housing White Paper.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “Both house builders and local authorities agree that the Government will not be able to build one million homes by 2020 unless council planning departments are properly funded. That’s why SME house builders will give a cautious welcome to the announcement in the Housing White Paper that central Government will allow councils to increase planning fees by 20% if they commit to investing the extra funds in planning alone and not in other areas.
“This is something that the FMB has been calling for and in our view, is one of the biggest game changers to come from today’s 100 page Housing White Paper. If this can be shown to deliver real improvements in planning, then it would make a good case for further increases along the lines the White Paper suggests.”
Berry continued: “Stimulating greater output among smaller scale house builders will not only help us build thousands of additional homes, it will also help us deliver those homes more quickly. The business model of an SME developer relies upon building out sites and then selling the properties as quickly as possible.
“The Government clearly recognises the importance of this model in meeting its housing target and is right to identify the decline of the SME house builder as a key factor behind the continued shortfall of new homes. The reforms to the country’s planning system, outlined in the White Paper, are important to this end – they place greater emphasis on using small undeveloped sites and further support one-off ‘windfall’ sites.”