Government plan to build 200,000 homes will fail unless it listens to the industry, says housebuilding chief.
Housebuilder Taylor Woodrow has warned the government that it will not meet housebuilding targets unless it pays attention to the industry.

Taywood chief executive Ian Napier welcomed the government's communities plan launched last month, but said it needed practical work to make it deliverable. Deputy prime minister John Prescott gave the go-ahead for the construction of 200,000 homes in the South-east.

Taywood owns land in two of the areas – Stansted in Essex and Ashford in Kent – where most the housing will be built.

Napier said: "The idea is a good one, but the government is going to have to sort out how to speed up planning approvals to get the big housebuilders interested. There is a lot of work to do in terms of delivery."

Napier said the firm had directly approached the government and also lobbied through the House Builders Federation.

He said: "If it listens to us there will be a manageable situation. If it doesn't it will not attract housebuilders."

Napier made his comments as the group posted results for the year to 31 December 2002. Pre-tax profit rose 15% to £233m; turnover increased £66m to £2.22bn.

Napier also addressed claims made over the weekend in the business press that the group was vulnerable to a takeover by venture capitalists because of its low share price.

Napier said: "From a theoretical point of view I cannot see why this industry is attractive to a venture capitalist. None of the criteria that venture capitalists are looking for in firms, such as a business that throws up a lot of cash, fits the housebuilding sector."

Napier said the group expected house prices to rise 5-7% this year. He said: "That figure will be slightly below that in the South and above in the North."

Napier described 2002 as a landmark year for the group. It moved to a new headquarters and reduced its regional outposts from 19 to 10.

n Taylor Woodrow chairman Robert Hawley will retire on 29 May. The firm said it had already started to look for a replacement.

Deputy chairman Sir George Russell stepped down this week – he was succeeded by Norman Broadhurst.