The London Housing Strategy’s strong focus on bringing forward more small sites will help solve the housing crisis by opening up the market to SME house builders, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Commenting on the draft London Housing Strategy, published today, Barry Mortimer, Director of FMB London, said: “If we’re to build the number of new homes Londoners need, we must urgently make much better use of the many existing small sites that are dotted all over London. In doing so, we will the strengthen the capacity of SME house builders to build more new homes and perhaps even attract some new SME firms into the market. FMB research has consistently shown that a lack of available and viable land is the main factor stunting the ability of small builders to deliver more homes. Indeed, over half of SME house builders believe that the number of small site opportunities is, if anything, decreasing.”
Mortimer continued: “We therefore welcome strongly the Strategy’s proposal for a presumption in favour of appropriate residential development on small sites, which goes further than proposed changes to national policy as laid out in the Government’s Housing White Paper. The ‘Small Sites, Small Builders’ programme will also link up public land owners with small builders, which could make accessing public land easier for small firms. We also welcome moves which will mean that less of the Community Infrastructure Levy is payable upfront on small sites. This will really help with cash flow for smaller builders and make the economics of small scale development slightly easier.”
Mortimer concluded: “The London Housing Strategy therefore marks a step forward in empowering smaller house builders in London. In order to reach the 50,000 new homes London needs to build each year, this renewed emphasis on small sites is vital. However, all such progress could be undermined if the Mayor fails to protect small sites from onerous levels of developer contributions. National planning guidance states that planning obligations should not be sought from developments of ten units or fewer, but implementation of this policy in London is patchy at best. Unless the Mayor, and London Boroughs, recognise the need to minimise burdens on the very smallest developments, SME builders will continue to struggle to enter the market.”