The number of smaller home builders in operation must be significantly increased and myths surrounding landbanking by housebuilders busted if the 80,000 homes deficit that has arisen over the last decade is to be addressed.
These are among the messages being delivered to MSPs later today by industry body Homes for Scotland whose Chief Executive Nicola Barclay said:
“Given the fact that some 80,000 fewer homes have been built in Scotland since 2008 whilst the growth in number of households over broadly the same period has more than doubled, it is easy to see why our country is in housing crisis and why many people struggle to find a home that is affordable and that meets their needs and aspirations.
“A major contributory factor has been a near 40 per cent drop in the amount of companies building less than 50 homes a year and who traditionally focused on smaller sites.
“This is why we have formed a special project group and are working closely with the Scottish Government to define the solutions required. These may include easier access to development finance; the allocation of smaller sites; simplified planning processes; and a desire from regulators and enablers to help this important part of our industry to thrive once more.”
Barclay also highlighted overcoming the misconceptions that many hold in relation to the new home building industry as being as equally important a task. Urging everyone to unify around the need for more homes, she added:
“Home building is a complex, costly and lengthy business around which some fundamental misunderstandings have grown such as the common accusation that companies deliberately hold back land to inflate house prices. As many studies have shown, most recently last year’s Letwin Review, there is absolutely no evidence of this: it simply doesn’t make any business sense in terms of cash flow and return on investment for builders to hold on to land they could put houses on and sell.
“What builders do need, however, is a strategic pipeline of land to inform their investment, employment and training decisions. If we are to build the homes we need, we must move beyond this red herring and examine the real issues delaying housing delivery.
“I would also invite people to challenge their preconceptions of new homes by visiting a site, talking to sales staff and looking round a show home so they can see for themselves the quality, choice and flexibility new build has to offer."
1. Scottish Government housing statistics can be accessed here. Assuming annual pre-recession production levels would have been maintained at around 25,000, these show some 80,000 fewer homes have been built since 2008.
2. Official “Estimates of Households and Dwellings in Scotland” reports 2.3m households in 2008 compared to 2.46m in 2017.