Government has to do something, chief executive Matthew Pratt warns

The boss of one of the country’s biggest housebuilders has said the government still needs to press ahead with reform of the planning system amid suggestions certain proposals will be ditched.

Matthew Pratt, chief executive of £2bn-turnover Redrow, responding to reports that the government’s planning reforms will be watered down in the face of backbench opposition, said: “This was their [the government’s] fix, if this isn’t going to be their fix, what is going to be their fix?”

Matthew Pratt CEO at Redrow

Redrow boss Matthew Pratt wants more clarity on the country’s planning system

Major elements of the government’s proposed reforms to the planning system, including plans for mandatory local housing targets and a zonal system to classify land for development, are reportedly set to be dropped.

Pratt, speaking just before yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle which saw housing secretary Robert Jenrick sacked and replaced by Michael Gove, said the current system made it difficult for developers to plan as there is “no certainty” as to when or if planning approval will be granted.

He said: “I can tell you sites where they’ve been allocated only months earlier in a local plan, we go for outline planning permission and it gets refused by the same people.

“We can’t really work within a system where one minute they tell us one thing and the next minute they tell us another thing.

“It’s that certainty of understanding what’s happening out there, it becomes incredibly political, so trying to plan a business around the fact of a planning system that is not ideal is a problem.”

Redrow yesterday reported a 124% increase in pre-tax profit in its results for the year to 27 June. But the pre-tax profit of £314m was still 23% down on the £406m posted in the year before the pandemic.