Housebuilding Crisis – Survey Results, The Causes

HomesBeingBuiltYour Top 3 Causes Of The Housebuilding Crisis

The question to those in construction was:

If you could wave a magic wand just 3 times, which 3 causes of the housebuilding crisis would you choose to eradicate?

In addition, we asked respondents to rank their choices.



The Results

Cause 1st 2nd 3rd
Planning permission delays 46.3% 7.3% 2.4%
Lack of available land 7.3% 34.1% 0.0%
Housebuilders sit on land and hold back homes 14.6% 7.3% 12.2%
The public sector no longer builds anywhere near as much as they once did 22.0% 17.1% 9.8%
Housing Associations hamstrung by restrictions and regulations 2.4% 17.1% 19.5%
Skills & materials shortages 2.4% 4.9% 26.8%
Fewer smaller builders than before the crunch 2.4% 4.9% 9.8%
No Vote 2.4% 7.3% 17.1%

Apart from the votes, it was certainly an emotive topic, as reflected in the comments which accompanied them.

Before we break that down and examine those thoughts, one commenter after casting a vote laying the primary cause at the door of the public sector for not building as much as they did, said quite simply:

“But really none of the above. There is no money in it!”

Planning Permission Delays

Perhaps it’s not a surprise, but planning permission got the most votes as the primary cause.

As one commenter put it: “The planning system is the biggest cause of the imbalance in the housing market which impacts on high overhead costs for the economy generally and in the end low productivity and poverty.”

While another dug deep into the frustration it causes: “Despite what the government might think obtaining planning consent is tortuous. Most planning authorities are running a guerrilla campaign against reforms. Mind you the amount of data required with each application has become ridiculous. Abolition of aesthetic controls (except in certain defined areas eg Conservation Area AONB, Listed Buildings) would help as architecture, whatever anyone says, is driven by fashion and the whims pertaining at the time.”

Lack Of Available Land

Straight in at number 2 is the lack of land.

And one commenter takes a much more social stance, calling for government to look less at maximising value:

“The Government and various quangos need to release land not necessarily to the highest bidder but to LAs HAs etc to build sufficient housing that doesn’t have to return a cash profit. There is of course much data and research available on the benefits to health and society of people living in decent homes “

Other Causes

Apart from skills and materials shortages, the public sector’s reduced involvement in building couple with the restrictions places on housing associations draw a fair amount of commentary.

“The Government must enable local authorities and HA’s to build houses for rent with sufficient funding. Apprenticeships must be encouraged.”

While another respondent examines the stigma association with council and social housing:

“We need to build more council housing as we did in the 50s and 60s and remove the stigma of living in such accommodation. As it is now social housing is seen as housing for the lowest strata of society. Not everyone earns enough or wants a mortgage.”

While another simply points out: “In addition local councils stop house and land owners building on their own land for reasons which are out dated.”

Causes Not Listed

Many commenters moved beyond the supplied list of options:

“The reality is that the planning process, which has so few people who are prepared to go against a small number of locals – appearing to be looking for an almost unanimous decision – coupled with Section 106 requests, makes the whole process so slow, unwieldy and restrictive.”

And this was echoed by another:

“CILs and Section 106 contributions. These milk the construction industry to finance Local Government. If Council’s were properly funded through taxation (local or national), then these often unreasonable house-building taxes could be removed and the industry revived.”

One commenter, after making two choices suggest a third: “After these two its infrastructure and finance, which should be on your list?”

VAT made an appearance too:

“I would also point out a critical issue which is the stupidity of successive Governments who charge VAT on Brownfield Developments it is therefore 20% cheaper to build on green fields!”

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2 Responses to “Housebuilding Crisis – Survey Results, The Causes”
  1. Sarah Reay says:

    I agree, This was really a snapshot survey, and for want of an unbiased source, we used a BBC report to produce the list. Yes, there were many more potential causes, and the point you make is as valid as any – in fact moreso in that you have effectively pointed to a lack of joined up or strategic thinking. I think Winston Churchill once said that democracy was the worst form of government except for all the others. And that in a way is where the problem may at least start. Regardless of the political party, their goal is often focused upon winning and retaining power. This does not generate a culture where a longer-term perspective or strategic and joined up thinking can easily sit.

  2. Ged Ferris says:

    I did not vote because the main cause in my opinion was not given as an option. Supply has for many years outstripped demand and government both national and local has not considered this. Why has supply outstripped demand? Demographics – increasing household formation due mainly to a combination of aging population and government policy between 1997-2010 to encourage immigration without any obvious consideration of accommodation and infrastructure. The solution is build more accommodation – the argument is what sort and where.

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