Government shake-up amidst planning reforms, whilst material delays stifle output

Jenrick out, Gove in, as proposed planning reforms are paused

Robert Jenrick became one of several casualties in Boris Johnson’s latest cabinet reshuffle this week, replaced by Michael Gove; the fourth Housing Minister in four years.

Gove’s appointment came amidst the government backpedalling on its commitment to overhaul planning laws, which aimed to simplify the current system and grease the wheels in achieving the current target of building 300,000 homes a year in England. Gove seemed to agree, announcing a review into the proposals before deciding which next steps to take.

Meanwhile, hundreds of homeowners gathered in Westminster to increase pressure on Gove and the government to solve the building safety crisis. Trapped in unsafe and dangerous homes, leaseholders are facing remediation bills of up to £200,000 each, with the Government committing only to removing combustible cladding on blocks over 18 metres tall.

Builders call for flexibility on materials in the face of rising costs

The National Federation of Builders and the House Builders Association have called upon the government to instruct councils to be more open to approving material changes, as supply issues worsen and costs continue to rise.

Currently, local authorities can take up to 13 weeks to approve a material change; the NFB and HBA argue that this could result in more delays, as a volatile material market drives lead-in times up and reduces construction output.

Cost consultant Arcadis have also warned that material and labour shortages could continue to stifle the industry’s post-pandemic comeback, revealing that material costs have risen by an average of 15% in one year.

And, with construction job vacancies reaching a record high of 37,000 in the period from June to August, the current threats look set to continue.

Redrow profits double amidst density disappointments

Housebuilder Redrow saw profits more than double in the year to June 2021, with revenues also rising 45% in the period to £1.94bn. The group, led by CEO Matthew Pratt, reported profits of £314m, and a 39% increase in the number of homes completed, with 5,620 units built in the period.

However, Pratt expressed disappointment at the government’s latest design plans, with their National Model Design Code supporting higher density developments.

“We surveyed 2,000 customers and 77% said they want to live in a two storey detached home. So I am very disappointed with this document (NMDC). It has missed a trick,” he told Housebuilder.

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