Survey shows housebuilders believe localist reforms will add to planning woes

The introduction of “localist” changes to the planning system will slow the speed of getting consents, according to a survey of the nations housebuilders.

The report, by agency Knight Frank, found that 60% of housebuilders said that the changes will slow the planning system, with a further 20% believing the changes will have no impact.

This is despite the introduction of the New Homes Bonus, designed to encourage councils to give permission for more homes. Just 1% of the 200 housebuilders surveyed said the New Homes Bonus would increase the number of homes built significantly, with the overwhelming majority – 77% - believing it would have either a negative impact or no impact at all.

The survey found that mortgage availability continued to be the biggest source of concern for housebuilders, in a market where new home sale prices fell on average by 4% a year – a significantly worse performance than for the large listed builders. Housebuilders also predicted construction costs rising 2% next year as the impact of higher materials prices seeps through.

Overall the survey found the annual number of housing starts is still 47% down on the level at the height of the boom in 2007, less than half of the predicted annual increase in households.

David Fenton, head of regional land at Knight Frank, said, “2010 has seen the more enlightened house builder focus on the better sites with quality housing product in a defined and active market place. The schemes need to be well planned, less dense and more family focused.

“The mortgage market continues to constrain buyers but we believe the housing industry sees a glimmer of hope on the horizon, with a number of schemes timed to deliver product in 2013 when financial conditions will have hopefully improved.”