Housing boss Pidgley takes aim at planning red tape

Tim Clark

Tony Pidgley speaking at the Ecobuild conference 2016

Speaking at Ecobuild, Berkeley chairman calls planning red tape ‘a crime’

Berkeley Homes chairman Tony Pidgley has called on the government to use the opportunity to consult the construction industry from the recently launched White Paper on housing to cut red tape which is clogging up the planning system.

Speaking at the Ecobuild conference in east London, Pidgley (pictured) said that the length of time it takes for developments, and in particular section 106 agreements to be signed off is a ‘crime’.

“Going back to planning, we should have a democracy about it [planning] but once planning has been decided it’s decided. We may talk about affordability and place-making but to spend between one and three years signing section 106 documents is a crime when society has a housing crisis.

“We should have a call to action for the government to deal with the red tape, and put the onus back on industry to raise standards. We don’t need 800 planning conditions for the 1% of developers who misbehave, let’s find that 1% and punish them.

Pigeley’s comments were echoed by Dan Batterton, fund manager, Legal & General (L&G) investment management, which is investing in a new wave of build-to-rent homes in several locations in the UK.

Batterton said: “The planning system is really difficult to navigate, it gets people to the lowest denominator and stops people innovating. In a few years’ time there will be thousands of homes built by pensions. At the moment though there are only one or two.”

L&G has invested in a new offsite factory in West Yorkshire to deliver its new homes and aims to deliver 3,000 per year from a staff of 500.

He added: “It’s a different approach to building homes, the current business model isn’t broken. We are looking at 20, 30, 40 year investments in a single site, it has an impact on how we are going to approach a site and what we build.”

 

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