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Scottish government failing to address housing supply, says trade body

The Scottish government is still failing to address the issue of housing supply, according to Homes for Scotland.

In response to the Scottish government’s proposals on “Places, People and Planning”, the trade body expressed the frustration of its 200 or so member companies by insisting that they are “extremely disappointed” with the package of proposals put forward.

Although the government insists that there is plenty of potential for significantly more homes to be built, particularly on brownfield sites, many housebuilders now feel that it has never been harder to open new sites and get much needed homes out of the ground, according to Homes for Scotland’s director of planning, Tammy Adams.

Adams said: “Having consistently relayed our concerns to the Scottish government over some time, we are extremely disappointed with the package of proposals in the recent consultation paper. Whilst the words framing the need to deliver more homes are there, the detail required to achieve this is not.

“Homes for Scotland has engaged positively throughout the planning review process and we will continue to press for the current system to be tightened up to ensure maximum efforts are made, across all of Scotland’s planning authorities, to focus on policy and practice which actively enables the delivery of new homes.”

Despite an improving market, the number of new homes being built north of the border is in decline and, as existing sites are completed, housebuilders are increasingly struggling to secure planning permission for new ones.

Adams continued: “This situation will only exacerbate Scotland’s chronic housing shortfall, yet the planning review proposals contain no clear and targeted measures to address the real issues with development plans and development management processes.

“As we move towards the Planning Bill, due later this year, it is less clear than ever how the Scottish government intends to find planning system solutions to increase the number of new homes being built.

“The focus on home building that was clear when the planning review was first launched in 2015 has been lost, with too many radical reforms sought across potentially conflicting agendas.”

Coupled with recent proposals to significantly increase planning fees for major developments, and set in the context of very slow planning decision times, particularly for major housing developments, Adam insisted that the political commitment to meeting Scotland’s housing needs across all tenures “is not as strong as we had hoped”.

“Key to the success of any planning reform will be the Scottish Government’s ability to lead local public and political opinion on the benefits of building the new homes our country needs,” Adams added. 

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