Property development industry calls on Theresa May to ease planning restrictions

Property development industry calls on Theresa May to ease planning restrictions



Freeing up land and making the planning system easier are just two of the requests that those in the property development industry have urged the new prime minister to deliver.

Theresa May has already stressed the importance of tackling the housing deficit and has replaced Brandon Lewis as housing minister with Gavin Barwell.

Now experts in the property development market have told Development Finance Today what steps they believe Mrs May and Mr Barwell should take in order to solve the housing crisis. 

Ashley Ilsen, head of lending at Regentsmead, said despite the new faces, the same old challenges still remained. These include ensuring that builders and developers had the resources available to provide a good housing stock.

“The next budget will be the first [indicator] of where we may be headed under the new team, but they will need to [try] something different if we are going to make a dent in the demand for housing, not just around London, but throughout the UK. 

“Supply-side policies such as easing the planning system and assisting with the availability of good quality sites should help, and if we can produce housing at a quicker rate, this may keep prices from an even quicker acceleration. 

“Targets, as with working life, need to be realistic and not just pie in the sky figures to help appease the electorate.”

Mark McBriar of Adapt Finance felt that the government’s original housing target of one million homes by 2020 was reasonable and explained a few ways how the housing deficit could be tackled.

“The first is to make more land available for new housing.

“The amount of greenbelt land we have in this country could also be looked at. No one wants to see this land obliterated, but if we have a housing crisis it wouldn’t be the end of the world to reduce some of it.

“Another option would be to look at stamp duty rates and reduce them. Not only would this encourage first-time buyers, but also those wanting to invest in buy-to-lets, allowing for more rental properties.”

James Bloom, managing director of development finance at Masthaven Finance felt that one of the main contributors to the housing deficit was the barriers which SME developers had to deal with in terms of planning.

“The Department for Communities and Local Government are discussing proposed planning changes and we would love to see these be implemented. 

“We back the initiative which enforces high street banks to refer the deals they turn down and we would be keen to see this progress.”

James also felt the government would keep its housebuilding target, adding: “If the government were to revise its housebuilding targets, we would hope that it would loosen the planning constraints, which would ease off the pressure for challenger banks in the current market environment.”

Rishi Passi, CEO and founder of Oblix Capital said it had been 10 years since the government had met its housebuilding targets and felt the new prime minister needed to tackle the rate of which homes were being built.

“In order to achieve these targets, Theresa May will need to consider the impact that landbanking is having on supply, as well as addressing the ever-increasing issue of high private rental rates, making renting more affordable.

“Furthermore, the government needs to develop a more proactive relationship with local councils across the nation.

“I would expect the government to revise current targets, however, it is essential that the execution becomes more streamlined, and less bureaucratic.”

Mark concluded by warning the government that there was little point in building another million homes if they were not affordable to the market as a result of stamp duty. 

“Another issue that may hamper this target is the lack of want to finance new developments in the immediate aftermath of Brexit. 

“However, I believe in time (hopefully soon) the markets will stabilise making this issue redundant, saying that, this can only be done by the government strengthening the economy and giving investors confidence.”


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