Communities department calls in housing chiefs as cost of regulations “threatens site viability”

The government has called in housing chiefs for high-level talks designed to find ways to cut through red tape, amid complaints that the burden of regulation on the sector is destroying hopes of a recovery.

The communities department has convened a last-minute roundtable, to be held on 10 November, designed to deliver on a promise in April’s Budget to “ensure a proportionate approach to cumulative regulation” by the time of this year’s pre-Budget report, scheduled for late November or early December.

The news comes as research carried out by the Home Builders Federation (HBF) revealed the cost of the regulatory burden facing housebuilders by 2013. When costs of meeting level four of the Code for Sustainable Homes, section 106 agreements, affordable housing, Lifetime Homes and the community infrastructure levy were added up, a typical brownfield site would make a £44,000 loss per acre without a government grant.

The government roundtable is to be attended by representative bodies, including the HBF and the House Builders Association, and chaired by Bernadette Kelly, the communities department’s senior civil servant in charge of planning.

The move is designed to answer concerns from the HBF that the warm words from the Budget had not been followed up by action.

A spokesperson for the HBF said: “When you add up the [regulatory costs], the combined total is going to be quite a threat to site viability because you are not going to be able to pay all of those out of land values.”

Chris Tinker, group board director of Crest Nicholson Homes, which carried out the research for the HBF, said housebuilding was unviable in many parts of country. “We trust that the pre-Budget discussions will signal how the government intends to address the issue,” he said.