imgresThe Labour Party’s Lyons Housing Review provides a long overdue blueprint for increasing the capacity and output of small and medium sized (SME) house builders to help build the much needed 200,000 new homes a year, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “This is the most comprehensive review of housing delivery we have seen in recent years. Given the extent of the housing shortage we face, the target of 200,000 new homes per year is ambitious, but it is a necessary ambition. To achieve this aim we will need to significantly boost the capacity of the house building industry and Sir Michael Lyons has rightly identified the SME house building sector as a crucial part of the housing sector’s capacity. It is very pleasing to see that Lyons has recognised the barriers that small house builders face, which prevent them from building the homes we need, such as access to finance and a shortage of small sites, and has put forward a package of measures to address them.”

Berry added: “As well as endorsing the ‘Help to Build’ loan guarantee initiative, which Labour is already in the process of developing, the report makes the groundbreaking recommendation of a return to a simpler, ‘redline’ system for outline planning applications for smaller sites. The focus across the whole of the report of pushing more land into the system is also extremely welcome and Lyons rightly highlights the need for a focus within this on the identification of smaller sites and packaging opportunities for SMEs as part of larger developments.”

Berry concluded: “Taken together these amount to a very significant package of measures which would allow smaller builders to deliver many more homes. In order to reach their 200,000 target though, a future Labour government would need to significantly increase investment in social house building, as private sector capacity is unlikely to be able to increase sufficiently to hit that target by 2020. I would be keen to see more detail on Labour’s plans for capital investment in housing as their strategy develops.”