New paper outlines ‘barriers and solutions’ to Scotland’s housing needs

Nicola Barclay

A new discussion paper has been published, outlining an ‘insider view’ on how to deliver much-needed new houses in Scotland.

The Homes for Scotland (HFS) paper sets out what actions the organisation believes are required, taking into account everything from developer finance and the planning system to skills and industry capacity.

The paper, titled ‘Delivering More Homes for Scotland: barriers and solutions’, also aims to clarify often misunderstood issues including how housebuilders value potential development sites, the interaction between house prices and land prices, and how a typical development is taxed.

Some of the solutions being propsed include “meaningful” support for small-scale builders to increase industry capacity, exploring options for a new town-type model for large-scale housing delivery and ensuring the planning system is “collaborative, fully-resourced and able to deliver decisions quickly”.

The paper is being launched as the Planning Bill makes its way through the Scottish Parliament and as the Scottish Land Commission (SLC) is exploring options for land reform.

HFS chief executive Nicola Barclay said, “Home building is a hugely complex business but there is too little information available to help those outside the industry better understand the challenges involved. This is visible in some of the debate around planning and land reform. It is our job to fill that information gap and show the positive role our industry plays in Scotland – significantly contributing to debate as well as to the country’s social wellbeing and economic success. Rather than just critiquing the ideas of others, we wanted to provide genuinely useful information that will support better informed policy-making. We want this paper to mark a huge step forward in public understanding of home building.

“Scotland’s home builders are a positive part of our country’s future. It is therefore vital that land reform, planning reform and all other changes that affect them are informed by them.”

HFS director of planning Tammy Swift-Adams added, “There are real challenges on the horizon that could have serious unintended consequences for Scotland as a whole, not just our industry. Changes to planning appeal rights are an obvious example, but our members are also concerned that their ability to deliver more homes will be directly affected if land reform proposals are not brought forward in close discussion with those who are building homes now.

Tammy Swift-Adams

“HFS has been at the forefront of calls to make the planning system more collaborative. For Scotland to succeed, we need to deliver the homes its people need and aspire to live in. Everyone involved – from policy-makers to builders and communities – needs to consider what homes we want, where we want them and how they will be delivered.

“Our paper provides practical information that can be put to use by policy-makers and other opinion-shapers to make sure major reforms genuinely enable the delivery of more new homes by companies building now and new entrants to the market.”