Small local house builders are best placed to ensure that increasing the quantity of homes does not reduce the quality of homes, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has stated, in light of a new House of Lords Committee report on the built environment.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The Committee is right to focus on the quality of housing – any dropping of standards in order to boost completions will serve to store up problems for the future. However, to suggest that achieving numbers might come at the cost of quality is creating a false dichotomy. In particular, the Committee has misunderstood the impetus behind calls for planning reform. Small house builders have been pressing for a speedier planning system, not because it will allow them to build to a lower spec, but because the current system is ill-suited for building high quality homes on the required scale to address the housing shortage. Local developers deliver houses that have a very high satisfaction rate among home owners. What builders need is a planning system that is far quicker and easier to navigate and is an enabler of housing delivery, not a drag on it.”
Berry concluded: “Looking at some of the other recommendations, we’re pleased that the Lords Committee recognises the importance of SME house builders and we agree that the Government must reconsider its position on retrofitting our existing homes. In particular, we back their call for the introduction of a Chief Built Environment Advisor. The role of Chief Construction Adviser existed until the end of last year but was scrapped by the Government as part of its efficiency savings. As construction, housing and infrastructure cut across so many different government departments, it’s useful to have a dynamic individual in place who can ensure there is greater co-ordination in Whitehall and who can act as a genuine champion for creating a quality built environment. The Government needs to work with the Lords and with industry to develop these recommendations in a way that allows us to tackle one of the greatest political challenges of our time.”