Bridging Loans News:- Local planning authorities will struggle to deal with targets to build an average of 300,000 new homes a year from the mid 2020s, warns the National Audit Office, NAO.
The organisation’s Planning for New Homes report highlights a catalogue of weaknesses in the planning system. It notes only 44 per cent of authorities having a local plan for new house builds that is less than five years old.
NAO head Amyas Morse, said: “It is clear the planning system is not working well. The government needs to take this much more seriously and ensure its new planning policies bring about the change that is needed.”
Bridging Loans- Developers in the driving seat
The NAO warned that without a local plan there was a danger of councils losing control and giving developers the freedom to build where they wanted.
The report also flags up a 15 per cent cut in the number of local planning staff from 2006 to 2016.
It said local councils were processing applications within timescales but there had been an increase in time extensions to hit deadlines.
Other stresses in the system include the 38 week average it takes for the planning inspectorate to determine an informal hearing or inquiry-based housing appeal. Back in 2013-14 the average time to determine an appeal was 30 weeks. The NAO called on the Government to monitor the changes brought in with its revision of England’s national planning policy framework in July 2018.
Planning system needs cash boost
British Property Federation real estate policy director, Ian Fletcher, called for more resources for planning at a local level.
“Planning has seen some of the most severe reductions in spending in recent local government cuts. If we want the quality homes and well-designed places the public needs, then this year’s spending review needs to deliver real increases in funding for local government and planning. Against the backdrop of Brexit, it is also more important than ever that Government invests in growth at home,” he said.
Tougher infrastructure strategy needed
The Audit’s report was also critical about the system for developers contributing to infrastructure costs. It noted companies had been able to renegotiate final agreed sums on the basis that they were unable to make profits.
“Contributions agreed with developers slightly decreased between 2011-12 and 2016-17, despite house prices in England increasing by 31per cent and profit margins of top developers increasing. If developers do not contribute, either less infrastructure is built or local authorities or central government must pay more,” said the report.
Market for over 55s under-developed
Retirement homes developer Audley Group said the Government’s housing delivery plan was flawed as it focussed on building more new homes rather than releasing existing ones.
Audley Group chief executive officer Nick Sanderson said: “Yes we need more housing supply. But we can do that by ending house-blocking. By freeing up family homes that already exist we can prevent the property market grinding to a complete standstill, and people houses to live in.”
Sanderson pointed to the fact that two out of five UK homes are under-occupied due to lack of quality accommodation for older people to move into.
“If we truly want to kick-start movement in the market and create that ‘property-owning democracy’, we need to end the in-fighting and indecision, stop plastering over the cracks and invest in quality housing options for the older generation.”
Audley Group recently teamed up with Knight Frank finance to introducing bridging loans so older people can move into retirement homes while waiting for the sale of their existing property.