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Shapps pledges to cut red tape

Housing minister Grant Shapps has promised to make it easier for developers to build homes by cutting red tape.

During a speech at a Home Builders Federation conference yesterday, he pledged to tackle the ‘alphabet soup’ of standards and called on industry leaders to work with the government to simplify the system.

Mr Shapps highlighted Government efforts to bring an end to conflicts of the past between developers and residents with the introduction of a New Homes Bonus, so councils will be able to claim funding equal to the council tax revenue from new homes for six years after they are built. He said: “Last year, house building hit its lowest level for any peacetime year since 1924 as developers have been hampered by regional targets that put them in direct conflict with local communities and an alphabet soup of regulations and red tape they have to navigate.

“Today I have a clear message to house builders large and small - we are on your side. I am determined to make it easier to build the homes this country needs. Appropriate building standards, applied sensibly, help developers and communities alike, but they can only be effective if they are easier to understand. That’s why I want to simplify the process for house builders to meet the standards communities demand.

“But I also want to make it easier for these companies to complete new developments where they are wanted. That’s why we will introduce powerful new incentives so those communities that give the green light to developments see the benefits of the new homes in their area.”

Home Builders Federation chief executive Stewart Basely said the lack of detail on the New Homes Bonus has left a policy vacuum that threatens to disrupt the supply of homes further. He reiterated his concerns over the scrapping of regional special strategies and warned it would take some time for the Coalition’s incentive based system to replace regional targets.

He added: “My personal view is that I can understand why Grant believes Local Authorities will realise they need the income the proposed incentive will provide, as cuts in Central Government funding to Local Authorities will mean they have to think carefully about turning down such revenue.

“But where I differ from Grant, is that I think it will take some time for that penny to drop – and he has bet the farm on the penny dropping very quickly.  Shapps of course says it is too early to tell how many homes the new system will deliver – if he’s told me once he’s told me a thousand times to judge the Government over the lifetime of a parliament  and measure the number of homes built versus the last Government  – but it’s a high risk strategy and the stakes are very, very high.”