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Land in short supply for small builders

PUBLISHED: 17:10 15 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:10 15 September 2017

Construction is the sector in which employers are finding it hardest to recruit, according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation. Picture: Steve Adams

Construction is the sector in which employers are finding it hardest to recruit, according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation. Picture: Steve Adams

A lack of available land for development is holding back East Anglian builders from filling the demand for housing, according to research by a trade body.

Land availability is a concerns for small and medium-sized home builders. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Land availability is a concerns for small and medium-sized home builders. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Access to finance and a lack of skilled work are also major issues for the construction industry, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said.

Figures from a New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership report in 2016 showed the region could face a 28,000 house shortfall by 2026.

More than half of the small-to-medium-sized building firms surveyed (54%) by the organisation felt there was a decreasing number of viable sites for smaller developments, a sentiment which Edward Parker, managing director at Suffolk-based Bennett Homes, agreed with.

He said: “A lack of available and viable land is certainly an issue.

“It appears that although planning is now generating more consented sites, these seem to be larger and therefore out of the reach of smaller house builders.

“This means that the nationals continue to dominate the new housing market which leads to a lack of diversity and choice for consumers and, as SMEs tend to build out faster, this has the effect of slowing down overall delivery.

“Another obstacle is that the demands put on smaller sites – in terms of affordable housing and financial contributions – can be so excessive that these potential schemes become unviable.”

He added the planning system, and staff cuts at councils, created long delays to the building process.

Paul Le Grice, managing director of Abel Homes, based in Watton, said many of the available sites in Norfolk required considerable amounts of infrastructure to be put in before homes could be built, with larger sites tending to be preferred by planners.

He said: “It can been seen that a large amount of the land which is earmarked for new housing in Norfolk is tied up in large strategic sites, which in some cases are stalling due to the up-front infrastructure requirements of these schemes. While these sites may be relatively small in number, in terms of volume of housing allocation, they represent a much greater proportion.

“For all but the biggest house builders, smaller, more manageable sites are needed.”

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