New "green housing revolution" addresses housing experts Beal Homes' longstanding concerns
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick unveiled a new "green housing revolution" in October, promising a new green standard for new-build homes to tackle climate change and bring down household bills.
Among the plans, ministers are also to consult on a blueprint to overhaul the planning system.
Jenrick proposes that a "simpler, fairer system that works for everyone" will be implemented, rendering the system more helpful "for home owners to small and medium businesses, local communities to housing developers".
The issues that the overhaul has promised to resolve have strong echoes of those put forward by Beal Homes chief-executive Richard Beal in The Parliamentary Review of 2019.
Beal emphasised that for far too long, Britain had built too few homes, leading to "a significant undersupply that will take many years of substantially increased building volumes to address".
However, Beal believed that the burden of satisfying the demand for many more new homes couldn't fall squarely on the shoulders of the "national builders".
Beal wrote: "We need more house builders to develop smaller sites and achieve a step change in the volumes of new homes while ensuring that quality is maintained".
Yet, as Beal went on to highlight, 80 per cent of small house builders have disappeared over the last 30 years.
The government's desire to reform the planning system in support of small and medium-sized may, therefore, come as welcome news.
The government's accelerated planning green paper, to be published in November 2019, will outline plans to make the "complicated and outdated" planning system more efficient and faster.
The green paper proposes a more "user-friendly" approach which will simplify the planning process, hereby benefitting smaller businesses through the simplification of guidance and a new tiered planning system coming into force.
The existing planning system often prompts delays in constructing new builds since local authorities take such a lengthy amount of time to grant planning permission.
Although Beal described the local authorities he deals with in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire as "helpful and proactive", his business has encountered delay issues of their own.
The delay in decisions, according to Beal, boiled down to long waits for responses from "consultees" during the planning process.
Some of these include the likes of the Environment Agency, Natural England and utility providers. He also mentions lengthy waits for infrastructure technical approvals to be received.
All of this culminates in setbacks to the construction of new homes and fuels the issue of undersupply. Beal, therefore, expressed a desire to see "a fixed and enforced timescale" for responses enforced by the government.
Part of the government's new plans include such a timescale. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government suggests that fees may be refunded should local councils take too long to make a final ruling on specific applications, accounting for consultation delays.
Local authorities across the board will now be compelled to work at pace to decide proposals.
The plans also confirm a review into application fees, which will ensure on the one hand that council planning departments are properly resourced with more qualified planners, allowing for quicker processing of applications for new homes and other proposals.
This review will also ensure fairer fees for small and medium-sized developers, avoiding them from being overcharged and risking going out of business.
The government's official press release on the plans can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/housing-secretary-unveils-green-housing-revolution