Taylor Wimpey, Barratt and Redrow say planning changes will delay housing recovery

Three major housebuilders have rounded on the government’s Localism bill, saying it is likely to delay a recovery in housing construction.

Giving evidence to the localism bill committee, Taylor Wimpey chief executive Peter Redfern said the impact of the proposed radical changes to the planning system would add up to a couple of years to the time it takes housebuilding volumes to recover.

The number of homes started in England annually fell to a low of 78,000 in 2009 after reaching a high of 178,000 in 2007.

Redfern said: “My personal estimate is under the previous system it would have taken six years to return to what was the status quo [in housing numbers] of 2007. With this bill it will take longer, more like 7-8 years. This is principally because of the transition period while the new system beds down.”

His comments were backed up by Roy Donson, regional planning and strategic land director at Barratt Developments. He told the committee, which included planning minister Bob Neill and decentralisation minister Greg Clark, that he feared housebuilding would grind to a halt in three years once current permissions ran out. He said: “My great fear is that in three years’ time it all stops. As an industry we need a flow of land coming through the system. I fear that when what currently on the stocks runs out, the new stuff will not be coming through.”

Jenny Daly, managing director of Redrow subsidiary Harrow Estates, said: “The big issue is just the matter of changing the system. When uncertainty happens, then short, medium and long-term decisions are put to the side by developers or investors. There’s a hiatus, it’s inevitable.”

The Localism Bill, which had its second reading in parliament last week, outlines the coalition government’s plans to gives councils and neighbourhoods more control over the planning system. It includes proposals to dismantle the regional tier of the planning system, and aims to give neighbourhoods a role in controlling development.