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Cuts will lead to fewer homes, warns FMB

Further cuts to local planning departments could leave them incapable of addressing the housing crisis, cautioned the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) ahead of the Spending Review.

Chief executive Brian Berry said it would be impossible to tackle the housing crisis without adequately resourced local planning departments.

According to Mr Berry, house builders are already reporting that shortages of skilled planning officers are affecting the speed and efficiency of the planning process at every stage.

“The effect of this can be particularly pronounced for SME developers – the smaller sites they specialise in, though cumulatively vital, are individually less important and often more resource intensive,” he added.

It has been suggested that the government may allow a rise in planning application fees in the forthcoming Spending Review.

Mr Berry indicated that the FMB would welcome this, but only on the basis that higher fees result in an improved service and more new homes.

“It would be unacceptable if an increase in charges to developers simply acted as a prop for further cuts to local authorities. It would also be unacceptable if developers were asked to pay more without seeing any improvement in an all too often poor-quality service,” he said.

“The housing crisis is one of the greatest political challenges we currently face and it’s therefore crucial that the Chancellor gets this right in the Spending Review.”

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