24th March 2023

Housebuilder welcomes ‘long overdue’ study into sector

The managing director of sustainable housebuilder Cora has welcomed an industry regulator’s upcoming market study into the sector – saying it should have been done decades ago.

Businesses have been asked to comment on the current position of the housebuilding industry as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) gathers evidence ahead of the study’s release next February.

The report will investigate housing quality, land management, local authority oversight and innovation as well as considering the issues faced by smaller developers.

Luke Simmons, MD of Northamptonshire-based Cora, said: “I welcome this report from the CMA as it will be well researched and fact-based and free from political influence.

“It will give real and useful insight into the sector – it’s long overdue to be honest, I think it should have been done 30 years ago.”

Luke said local planning authorities often backed housing projects from larger developers to hit their targets but hopes the new study will show how SMEs should play a bigger role in tackling the UK’s housing shortage.

He said: “The problem is, it has been much easier in the past for local planning authorities to look favourably at large developments because they tend to be built on land situated outside of a town or village. Local people are less likely to complain as the build doesn’t have as much of a direct impact on their day to day lives.

Smaller developments usually pop up right in the middle of bustling communities where there is less space, and so attract negative attention from residents.”

“For local authorities, larger developments also mean they can meet their quota for thousands of homes all in one go.

“Traditionally, the only companies who could afford to take on projects like that are the large housebuilders – but if a large housebuilder has a site of 1,000 plots it can take up to four years to complete.

“However, if you can split the plots into sections, maybe 100 each, these could be built in phases all at the same time by smaller housebuilders, and I would say to a better standard.”

Luke said the study had been fuelled by claims some housebuilders were holding back plots with planning consent for financial reasons.

He said: “This has encouraged those who argue there are already plenty of plots that have planning permission, and that they should be built first before any new applications are accepted.

“However, when the CMA looks into it, they will find most of these plots have been held back by other legislation, or are not actually with developers, but with landowners instead.

“I look forward to reading the study’s findings and seeing the impact it has on our industry.”

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