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John Slaughter on private housing

Q&A with John Slaughter, director of external affairs, Home Builders Federation

How is the private house building market responding the turmoil in the global economy?

Clearly there is uncertainty in the market. But is doesn’t necessarily mean that the market is in trouble. The underlying problem of the housing shortage remains, so house builders should feel more confident about the longer term. The fundamentals are good.

Other than the market, what will the key challenges for private house builders this year?

The Planning Reform Bill and Community Infrastructure Levy are both interesting. One of the big projects of the year will be working out the details of how the Community Infrastructure Levy will work.

We want a clear emphasis on the procedure of how local plans for infrastructure will be drawn up within Local Development Plans. We need them to be properly tested through the public enquiry process. We need a clear understanding of what the Community Infrastructure Levy should and shouldn’t cover and what will be outside the levy. There are important issues of detail.

We also need to improve the building regulatory system. This is not something Communities & Local Government would disagree with – we’ve all recognised that we need to look at ways on how we can make the system work better together.

Are materials shortages going to have an effect on house builders this year?

I’ve heard people in other sectors talk about materials being a major challenge – utilities firms, for example. Obviously that can have a knock-on effect on us.