John Lambert, Managing Director at Forticrete, gives his view on the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, The Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Conservative Party Conference speech.
Last year’s Autumn Budget focused heavily on housebuilding, with a bold aim of building 300,000 houses on average each year. At this week’s Conservative Party Conference James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, reaffirmed the Government’s commitment in this area, stating housing continued to be their biggest domestic priority. And it is no surprise, as it remains under immense pressure to build the homes needed for the growing population.
It is reassuring that the Government is upbeat about reaching its ambitious targets, for both those who are looking to get on the property ladder and suppliers to this market, and how it plans to achieve them.
We particularly welcome a plan led approach to development and removing barriers in order to speed up the planning process. Such reforms will ensure more there is more opportunity for development through smarter use of land and space.
However, any planning reforms should also be seen as an opportunity set the benchmark on how houses are designed and the materials which are specified – a key issue as the speed of build is an important aspect in achieving the Government’s target.
The pursuit of materials that blend with the local vernacular is now the ‘norm’. But all too often, planning authorities seek to use traditional building materials because it is what they are familiar with. But it is well documented that there are lengthy waits for some building materials coupled with rising prices. So planning authorities need to consider the alternatives when making their decisions.
As an example, there are a variety of roof tile options, such as those made from concrete, which recreate the look of traditional materials without compromising on quality. Specification of such products will help to speed up the supply chain – and thereby make a valuable contribution to the housing target. Not only does it ensure housebuilders attempting to address the housing shortage have the products they need, but so too do the architects looking to ensure their projects enhance the visual appeal of the built environment.
It is clear that the Government is taking serious steps to get Britain building. We now wait for the Autumn Budget at the end of this month to see if there are any further details on the progress being made to meet their ambitious targets.