Planning reform urgently needed says construction industry

The latest official Construction Index report on planning applications has spurred those in the construction industry to question planning regulations and their suitability for builders - especially small and medium-sized firms.

The Index has shown that there was a decline in major residential planning applications, 3% in minor applications (those for developments of fewer than 10 homes) and an 11% decline in commercial applications in the year to June 2018, compared to the previous year. Overall efficiency in the planning system was also shown to have decreased, with 75% of major applications and 42% of minor subject to extensions, environmental assessments or performance agreements.

These figures have led the Housing Builders Association (HBA) and the National Federation of Builders (NFB) to suggest that planning reform is needed, especially for SME builders who are more at risk of the effects of delays. Some examples of delays include those from an East Anglia builder who had just 8 out of 13 planning applications deemed successful, with an average wait of 34 weeks. The largest applications had taken between 120 and 180 weeks to decide.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the HBA has stated that planning remains inconsistent, expensive and risk-driven and that this leads to an inability to diversify the market and solve the housing crisis.