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Focus on Property Development: Why we need more property development – no we are not mad!

In our previous blogs, we have highlighted the importance of property developers to the economy and their role as part of the solution to the current shortage of housing. Remember, we are not talking about the big boys who are building the skyscrapers in London – we are talking about local construction businesses who build ordinary houses for ordinary people, like you and me. We looked a bit further to try and see why people are not building more houses and flats – and found an abundance of red tape and unnecessary procedures which limit their progress.

Did you know that there are over 100 different local council standards in the UK? Did you know that some local authority guides cover over 1500 pages (seriously, what SME has the time to read over 1,500 pages?)! Hence we welcomed the announcement last month that the Government was looking at proposals to simplify confusing housing standards, by reducing the number of local council standards from over 100 to fewer than 10 and the size of their guidance booklets from over 1,500 pages to fewer than 10 pages.

Beatrice Orchard, Head of Communications at the Federation of Master Builders, commented that: “Small and medium-sized house-builders are committed to providing high-quality housing tailored to meet local need, but the proliferation of an array of local, national and voluntary standards has added unnecessary complexity and cost to the house building industry in recent decades. These costs have a disproportionate impact on smaller firms and smaller developments.”

Don Foster, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “It’s essential the government plays its part by taking off the bureaucratic handbrake that holds back house building and adds unnecessary cost. I’m proposing to cut needless red tape to let house builders get on with the real job of building the high quality new homes that people need.”

Whilst we welcome the new proposals as a great step in reducing the everyday burdens which developers face, we think there is plenty more that can be done. Currently, according to The Empty Homes Agency, there is enough empty commercial property in the UK to create 420,000 new homes. By making it easier for developers to turn these premises into new shops or homes, it could go a reasonable way to improving the current state of the market.

What else do you think the Government can do to help propertydevelopers?

What’s the weirdest bit of red-tape you’ve come across?

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