THERE has been a positive reaction by the construction industry to the Scottish Government’s legislative programme for 2015/16, which features a successor scheme to the Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme and a “root and branch” review of the planning system.
Under proposals announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, £195 million will be provided over the next three years on a shared equity scheme to help people buying a new-build home.
The planning system review has the aim of increasing delivery of high quality housing developments by delivering a “quicker, more accessible and efficient” process.
Project Scotland last month highlighted concerns over the “cumbersome” planning system, following new figures which showed that the time taken for decision to be made on major developments was two weeks slower in 2014/15 than 2013/14.
Allan Callaghan, managing director at Cruden told Project Scotland, “We have long called for the continued roll-out out of the Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme, as it has helped in no small part to maintain growth within the construction sector.
“While we wait to see the impact of its successor within the market following the announcement it will continue in a different guise, this news will be warmly welcomed. The provision of £195 million over the next three years will continue to stimulate real growth and opportunities in the housing market, not least for those looking to get that first foot onto the property ladder, equally important is that we have a three year announcement which will provide surety and remove some uncertainty.
“The planning review to make it more streamlined is also a positive one, but it must ensure timescales do not increase in the interim.
“This could cause potential delays and impact on jobs, at a time when the industry needs continued support to make it as efficient as possible.”
Stephen Good, chief executive of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) added, “The Scottish Government’s commitment to support innovation as outlined in their Programme for Government is clear and CSIC’s role in stimulating innovation and driving transformational change and growth across the Scottish construction landscape is key.
“We’re encouraged by the additional funding promised through the Help to Buy scheme’s successor as this is likely to continue to stimulate demand for new homes. A healthy, growing housing sector will support the drive for further innovation. This in turn is likely to lead to further growth which will have a significant positive impact on Scotland’s economy.
“Anything that speeds up and simplifies the planning process and aims to fast-track higher quality, well designed, sustainable housing and improved infrastructure is also to be welcomed.”
Ed Monaghan, chief executive of Mactaggart & Mickel Group said, “There is no doubt that Help to Buy (Scotland) played a pivotal role in stimulating the housing market. In addition to providing the actual funding itself, the initiative boosted consumer confidence in the mortgage market and drove footfall to new build sites, resulting in sales out with the scheme. It is encouraging that the Scottish Government has listened to calls from the industry to allocate additional funding to the scheme, the detail of which we await with interest.
“Figures released by the Scottish Government showed that they are overturning local authority refusals on more than half of planning appeals. While this is positive, the fact that so many developers have to take their planning applications to this stage is only evidence of the limitations in the existing system. The review announced by the Government is good news for developers if it does deliver the more streamlined process it promises and allows builders to get building.”
Sandy Adam, Springfield Properties chairman said, “This announcement demonstrates the proactive approach taken by the Scottish Government. Any assistance to help housing become more affordable and improvements to the planning system will be welcomed by all in the housing industry.”
Philip Hogg, chief executive of Homes for Scotland said, “A ‘root and branch review’ of the planning system is much needed if we are to be able to build the many thousands of homes Scotland requires so this is very welcome news.”