One in three builders want the planning system reformed to help boost construction activity, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) in its response to the Government’s consultation on the Planning White Paper.

The FMB asked small to medium-sized (SME) house builders what was the one thing that the Government could do to help them reach pre-coronavirus levels of activity and 1 in 3 singled out reform of the planning system. This figure emerges against a background of a marked decline in the number of small house builders. In the 1980s 40% of all new homes were built by SME house builders but that figure has now fallen to just 12%.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The Government cannot reach its target of building 300,000 new homes a year without reversing the decline in SME house builders. To help bring more SMEs into the housing market the planning system needs to be quicker and more efficient. The introduction of an Ofsted-style rating system for local authority planning departments would help assist this aim.”

Berry concluded: “Land availability is another key issue for SME house builders. There are far too few small sites available for local house builders who typically build just a handful of new homes each year. To help make more small sites available Homes England should be ensuring public land disposals provide a greater proportion of small parcels of land aimed at small housebuilders.”

Notes to editors

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) is the largest trade association in the UK construction industry representing thousands of firms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Established in 1941 to protect the interests of small and medium-sized (SME) construction firms, the FMB is independent and non-profit making, lobbying for members’ interests at both the national and local level.

The FMB is a source of knowledge, professional advice and support for its members, providing a range of modern and relevant business building services to help them succeed. The FMB is committed to raising quality in the construction industry and offers a free Find a Builder service to consumers. 

A sample of 61 SME house builders in England were asked in the first two weeks of August what the one thing is that the Government should do to help them reach pre-coronavirus levels of activity. 28% of respondents (1 in 3) said that changes to the planning system were important.

This question was asked as part of the FMB’s House Builders Survey 2020 report, although the answers to this question were not published and are original data.

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