Angry housebuilders reject Prescott's claim at last week's urban summit that they are holding back regeneration.
Housebuilders are holding a meeting with the government next week to rebut claims by deputy prime minister John Prescott that they are hindering regeneration.

The House Builders Federation has arranged to see officials from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister next Friday to express concerns over Precott's comments at last week's urban summit.

During his keynote speech at the conference Prescott attacked housebuilders over low housing densities on developments, particularly in the South-east.

He is also known to believe that developers are sitting on land banks to raise the value of land.

Prescott warned developers against submitting low-density housing applications in the South-east, saying his department would call in such applications and subject them to planning inquiries. He said: "I am taking steps to ensure that housing developments in the South-east will be at more than 30 homes per hectare."

An HBF spokesperson said the government needed to shake up the planning system before criticising the housing industry's record. He said: "As land is the single most expensive component of any development, the notion that developers use it in a profligate or wasteful manner makes no sense. The real inefficiency resulting in Britain's housing crisis lies in the government's failure to address the inefficiency of the planning system. That alone decides whether homes can be built or not."

The HBF will also make clear that Prescott's warning on calling in low-density schemes must not mean that such projects will be banned altogether in the South-east.

The cause of the housing crisis lies in the failure to address the inefficiency of the planning system

HBF spokesperson

Colin Cole, deputy managing director of Westbury Homes, also dismissed Prescott's claims. He said: "The notion that we are not using land to get the best out of it is obviously wrong. Our business is to buy land and get it through the planning process."

Stephen Brazier, group operations director at Bovis Homes, called on the government to clear up confusion over the planning green paper. He said: "Local authorities in particular are struggling to interpret government planning policy at the moment because of the uncertainty surrounding the paper. It's bizarre that we are building fewer homes now given the underlying strength in the marketplace."

He said the government's decision to concentrate housing in key areas, such as Ashford in Kent and Stansted in Essex, was positive. "There has been an important sea-change as the government recognises there is a need for greater housing in employment opportunity areas such as the South-east."

The Thames Gateway London Partnership, which is attempting to co-ordinate the regeneration of the Thames Gateway, added that it was concerned that the summit did not address the importance of transport in delivering regeneration. It will meet Prescott on 26 November to outline its concerns.

TGLP chief executive Tim Williams said: "We are happy with the growth agenda and we are happy to push density up. But we need commitment on transport like CrossRail, a new river crossing at Beckton and Docklands Light Railway extensions."