Small housebuilders must be given a slice of the action if Labour follows its promise to build on green belt to meet housing needs, urges the Federation of Master Builders, FMB.

The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has announced that if his party wins the next election, it will bring back local authority housing targets and back ‘builders not blockers’.

“We’ve got to drive housebuilding at pace. We need to put local areas in charge of that so change the planning rules, have development corporations as vehicles on the ground to drive building, and make sure that the dream, the aspiration of owning your own home is realised for so many people who at the moment have had their dreams shattered,” said Sir Keir in an interview with Sky News.

FMB chief executive Brian Berry said it was important small builders were given the chance to play a major role in housing delivery as this would help local economies and raise quality standards.

“It’s critical that small local housebuilders have the opportunity to build many of these new homes given they currently deliver just 10 per cent of all new homes, down from 40 per cent over 30 years ago,” said Mr Berry.

Housebuilders give Sir Keir’s stance the thumbs up

The news has come as a relief for housebuilders who said the government’s decision to make council housing targets advisory rather than mandatory would lead to up to 100,000 fewer new homes a year.

Home Builders Federation, HBF, had calculated more than 55 local authorities had withdrawn or paused their housing delivery plans since levelling up secretary Michael Gove’s decision in December.

The National Federation of Builders, NFB, said Sir Keir was correct to bring back housing targets and to stop making the green belt sacrosanct.

NFB housing and planning policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said: “We can build up and out within existing communities, which will help SMEs greatly, but at some point, the greenbelt or green spaces will have to be used, not only for homes but the non-housing needs we so desperately require to support good placemaking.”

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development and bridging finance lenders welcomed moves to streamline planning policy and make it possible if needed to meet housing supply by building on the green belt.

He said that if Labour could speed up the planning process, then this would help SME housebuilders who didn’t have the resources to wait years for an application to go through.

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