Should More Be Done to Help ‘Unlock’ Potential of Small Builders?

Should More Be Done to Help ‘Unlock’ Potential of Small Builders?

A Parliamentary inquiry has told Government to help councils unlock the massive potential of small, self- and community-led builders.

The Government could unlock the supply of tens of thousands of new homes a year from small, self, custom and community builders, according to an inquiry that held its hearing in Parliament last week.

The New Sources of Supply inquiry, part of the National Housing Taskforce, heard from representatives of these specialist sectors as well as councils and lenders about:

  •  Releasing more public land, and helping local authorities and builders navigate issues like best consideration, competitive procurement and state aid that frequently trip innovative projects up.
  •  How more private land could be released by thousands of owners who care about stewardship and local communities, particularly through work with community-led providers and if concerns about Right to Buy and Starter Homes are overcome.
  •  The need for seed-corn finance to take new providers through to the point where commercial lenders will be willing to lend to them, including de-risking projects.
  •  The role that enabling organisations can play, both in helping local authorities to put in place the right policies and procedures, and to support new providers to start up and grow.

The inquiry heard about a range of examples of good practice in the UK and abroad, and suggestions as to how these can be scaled up and mainstreamed in England.

Helen Hayes, chair of the inquiry, said:

“There is clearly a huge amount of enthusiasm and innovation among small, self, custom and community builders. But our inquiry is uncovering a long list of barriers that are frustrating their efforts, whether it’s acquiring land, getting to site, accessing finance, or even just starting up a new community-led housing organisation.

“The Government has an opportunity to take these sectors from the margins and help them become a mainstream part of house building in England. We’ve identified a lot of practical ways to do this, and will shortly be making our recommendations to the National Housing Taskforce.”

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