A new inquiry studying housing demand will include looking at the part smaller builders can play in innovation and developing difficult sites.

The house of lords’ built environment committee will see how smaller builders can be encouraged back to the supply point.

Cross-party committee chair Baroness Neville-Rolfe told Housing Today: “You get some innovation and vibrancy and they do things that perhaps a bigger builder would not do. Historically there’s quite a lot of smaller builders who have fallen by the wayside.”

The National Federation of Builders, NFB, said smaller builders were more adept at responding quicker to building homes in the right places.

NFB housing and planning policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said: “They’re also more likely to embrace innovation and build better places. Their decline has been a major issue when producing solutions to solve the housing crisis and we should be doing everything we can to encourage their growth.”

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Baroness Neville-Rolfe pointed out that the number of households in England is projected to rise by 3.7m over the next 20 years.

“This increase will be unsustainable and damaging to society unless the corresponding need is met.”

She said meeting this demand was not just a question of numbers, but of balancing where and what kind of buildings people wanted to live in.

Fast bridging loan brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said lenders were keen to offer construction loans to smaller developers who were meeting local needs both in terms of place and design.

The committee will examine the government’s 300,000 annual homes target and how to balance this with the types of housing needed. She said that the country’s changing demographics with more single households and older people wanting different types of housing would be looked at.

Mr Wojtulewicz said the inquiry was right to look at supply and defining demand more accurately. He said that local authorities housing needs assessments were insufficiently detailed and weren’t twinned to planning certainty policies such as local development orders.

“To inform our work we want to hear from as broad a range of people as possible. If you have a view on housing, look at our call for evidence and let us know what you think,” said Baroness Neville-Rolfe.

Construction skills shortages and specific aspects of the planning system such as what role permitted development rights can play and how to engage communities in planning will be studied.

The committee has issued a public call for evidence with the deadline for submissions is 10 September 2021.

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