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Our research report, produced with Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) looks at some of the barriers to developing small sites and makes a set of practical recommendations on how local authorities and SME builders can work together to overcome these.

Key findings

Among other findings, the surveys found that:

  • 64% of builders and 45% of local authorities see under-resourcing of planning departments as a barrier to developing more small sites
  • 87% of local authority respondents said that they did not think the Government would reach its housing targets with current resourcing levels.
  • More than half of councils deliver fewer than 40% of homes on small sites
  • 79% of SME builders think the planning application for small sites is ‘too heavy-handed’
  • 55% of local authority respondents said that the quality of planning applications for small sites is often poor
  • 80% of SME builders said that local authorities in their area do not proactively communicate or engage with them

Key recommendations

The report makes a number of key recommendations, including:

  • Councils should improve their strategic engagement with SME house builders, including where possible by establishing developer forums, online portals and workshops.
  • Councils should seek to reduce complexity and uncertainty in the application process, through the use of coordinating codes, and better early engagement.
  • Central Government should give councils the power to set and vary planning fees locally where extra revenue can be ring-fenced and good service levels guaranteed.
  • Central Government should consider establishing a pilot “Small Sites Expert Task Force” to develop best practice and act as a source of expert advice on small sites.
  • Councils should use their land assets creatively, including giving consideration to the use of direct commissioning, joint ventures and deferred payment models.
  • Councils should seek to broker, where feasible, relationships between small builders and private landowners.

Download the report

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