AGENT BLOG: ‘Chancellor is right – planning key to housing market revival’

Responding to Rachel Reeves' housing-heavy speech yesterday, agent Jeremy Leaf says the Chancellor is correct to flag up big changes to planning, green belt and building industry.

jeremy leaf housing

Many planning delays are not just down to lack of capacity – it’s the systems and subjectivity of decision-making in housing.

Central decision-making is key because in our experience many schemes get mired in local red tape.

Having the threat of central government taking over might concentrate minds and get planning delivered more expeditiously. Once a decision in principle has been made about a development, delays are often for relatively minor matters, such as boundaries, local infrastructure and utility connections.

It would be great if central government could step in if required without emasculating the local authority. And it is important that SME developers and builders are encouraged because so often they can release much-needed blighted areas in communities and are the catalyst for getting work done.

They have been forming a decreasing proportion of the total over the past few years, which is cause for concern. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm and having ambitious housebuilding targets is important.

It helps local authorities with delivery and reduces delays but checks and enforcements need to be present wherever possible if planning applications are delayed.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm and having ambitious housebuilding targets is important.

The last time the country achieved anything like such a target was with considerable assistance of local authorities and we believe they should be encouraged to build more, either in partnership with private developers or housing associations, as the target will be difficult for private builders to achieve on their own.

There will be some windfall gains from the new towns but they will take time to identify and plan.

In the meantime, everything should be done to accelerate and expedite work in progress and give developers the confidence not only to achieve planning in reasonably quick time without cutting corners but also create a stable environment which will help them feel confident that they can sell or let their finished product.”

Jeremy Leaf is a north London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman.

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