Trade body calls for more smaller housebuilders to help solve homes “deficit”

Nicola Barclay

TRADE body Homes for Scotland has called for an increase in the number of smaller housebuilders to help solve the nation’s housing “crisis”.

The organisation also wants “myths” surrounding land-banking by housebuilders to be “busted”.

Homes for Scotland chief executive Nicola Barclay said, “Given the fact that some 80,000 fewer homes have been built in Scotland since 2008 whilst the growth in number of households over broadly the same period has more than doubled, it is easy to see why our country is in housing crisis and why many people struggle to find a home that is affordable and that meets their needs and aspirations.

“A major contributory factor has been a near 40% drop in the amount of companies building less than 50 homes a year and who traditionally focused on smaller sites. This is why we have formed a special project group and are working closely with the Scottish Government to define the solutions required. These may include easier access to development finance; the allocation of smaller sites; simplified planning processes; and a desire from regulators and enablers to help this important part of our industry to thrive once more.

“Home building is a complex, costly and lengthy business around which some fundamental misunderstandings have grown such as the common accusation that companies deliberately hold back land to inflate house prices. As many studies have shown, most recently last year’s Letwin Review, there is absolutely no evidence of this: it simply doesn’t make any business sense in terms of cash flow and return on investment for builders to hold on to land they could put houses on and sell.

“What builders do need, however, is a strategic pipeline of land to inform their investment, employment and training decisions.  If we are to build the homes we need, we must move beyond this red herring and examine the real issues delaying housing delivery.”