Nearly £2bn of public money to remediate 1070 hectares of derelict or unused land will help the nation build more new homes but it is not a complete solution warns the construction industry.
The National Federation of Builders, NFB, said more land would be needed to create employment space and amenities for the 160,000 homes the government hopes would be created. Although the government has pledged to invest £9m towards 100 urban ‘pocket parks’ across the UK.
NFB head of housing and planning policy Rico Wojtulewicz described it as a “sticking plaster solution”.
“Embodied carbon is just one element to understand, for example, there is a need to consider whether we can retrofit cheaper energy solutions, such as district heating, as well as retain a building; sometimes it is not possible to do both.”
The proposed funding which is expected to be announced in chancellor Rishi Sunak’s spending review on Wednesday is part of the government’s efforts to reach net-zero by 2050.
The Federation of Master Builders, FMB, said nearly two-thirds of smaller developers quoted lack of available and viable land as a major constraint for building new homes.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “It’s important that more small sites are unlocked in all communities as local builders often deliver fewer than 10 homes at a time, but to the highest quality and to local need.”
QR codes to open up planning
Rishi Sunak is expected to confirm £65m towards the digitisation of 175 local council’s planning systems. On Friday the government announced the names of 13 planning authorities who had won funding for piloting digitisation.
The government hopes this will make the planning process more accessible to a wider cross-section of people who can scan QR codes to see 3-D interactive maps. Cambridge has won £100,000 to use technology to capture views on a scheme appearing in news articles, social media feeds and blog posts.
Mr Wojtulewicz said: “Digital planning will illuminate the vast numbers of development opportunities within communities, such as on infill and small sites. A coherent land allocation strategy is the only way we can start solving the housing crisis.”
The FMB said it was pleased its calls for more investment in the planning system had been answered.
“Digitisation must make the system simpler and faster, and free up planners’ time to support the smallest firms navigate the often-complicated planning process,” said Mr Berry.
Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said a quicker planning system was something both development finance lenders and SME builders were keen to see.