Regalpoint Homes boss backs Theresa May’s housebuilding plan

Pam Mills

Theresa May’s promise to ‘rewrite the planning rule book’ has been welcomed by the Director of a West Kent housebuilding firm.

The Prime Minister recently pledged to change the National Planning Policy Framework to release more land for construction, to ease the housing crisis, as well as young people’s fears that owning a home is not a possibility.

John Griggs, Director of Regalpoint Homes, which is based in Sevenoaks, said new planning rules are needed to make the system fairer and more effective.

He also pledged to back any moves that could see ‘red tape’ and ‘barriers to building homes’ removed.

“More radical steps need to be taken to overhaul and speed up the planning process.

“The pre-planning phase can take years sometimes, with many conditions for us to meet.

“It may look like we’re doing nothing, but behind the scenes we are leaping over hurdle after hurdle, from Section 106 agreements to statutory consultations, and this is just stage one. There are four stages in total, each as lengthy as the last,” explained Mr Griggs.

Section 106 is a financial agreement a developer strikes with a council to ease the impact of a project and help with infrastructure.

“Housebuilders have been put in this situation by the government,” Mr Griggs continued.

“So instead of complaining about the delivery of new homes and laying blame at the door of housebuilders, they need to either rework the system or provide significant funding to tackle the lack of planning department resources.”

Mrs May also used her speech to criticise the practice of landbanking.

This refers to developers buying land to build on, but waiting for it to increase in value before starting work.

Mr Griggs added: “This is a tactic sometimes used by larger builders who can afford to wait for their profits.

“But the government’s idea not to grant planning permission if a company has a history of not building on their land is a good way to alleviate this problem.

“Of course, a developer’s profitability is what keeps them afloat, and it is in the market’s interest for housebuilders to make wise and timely business decisions in order to maintain their delivery of new homes.

“But I agree that those who sit on land for long periods of time, never intending to build, are contributing to the problem.”

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