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HBF: Simplify planning and support SME builders

Housebuilders have called on the government to simplify the planning system and support SME builders to boost construction.The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has recommended that the government use the Autumn Statement to improve the efficiency of the planning system so that it delivers more permissions, more quickly.According to the HBF, the time taken for planning systems to reach the construction stage is still too long, despite a recent rise in permissions. Cutting unnecessary bureaucracy could help speed up the process.It has suggested ensuring local authority planning departments are adequately resourced to deliver an efficient service and outsource work.In addition, the HBF has called for the introduction of a Principle of Development certificate to simplify the planning process and a proportionate, independent arbitration system to reduce the delays and costs associated with the current process.Measures to help small and medium enterprise (SME) builders have also been called for by the HBF, as it claims they have been disproportionately hit by bureaucracy and complexity in the system in the past two decades. This has led to a 78 per cent fall in the number of developers building 100 units or fewer between 1988 and 2013.The government should reduce red tape and the wider regulatory burden on smaller developers, taking particular care when considering the impact of the Housing Standards Review.The HBF has also suggested a government-backed development funding guarantee scheme for SME builders, as well as ensuring local authorities release some smaller sites when allocating land for development to increase delivery rates and level the playing field for start-ups and SMEs.Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF said: "The Autumn Statement provides government with a real opportunity to give housing supply a boost. If the industry is to build more homes more quickly we must address the failings inherent in the current planning process. "We need a system that is responsive to current housing needs and not one that acts as a constraint." 

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