House builder Barratt has called for changes to the planning system, after a government report into the sector.
The Treasury-backed Barker report aimed to examine UK housing shortages.
Barratt chief executive David Pretty said the system needed “simplified and speeded up” so builders can “quickly increase housing provision.”
His comments came as Barratt announced financial results for the six months to 31 December, with a 35% rise in first-half pre-tax profits of £142m.
During the second half of the year, Barratt sold 6,705 new homes in the UK, 10% up on the previous year, and are on course to achieve 14,000 sales over the full year.
Mr Pretty said: “Our sales are at record levels as we continue to experience good demand on all our developments right across the country.
“The housing market remains robust and is underpinned by low interest rates, good affordability, high employment levels and limited supply.” More about Delegate ventures
Newcastle-based Barratt builds homes across Britain and also has operations in California.
England ‘needs’ extra 1.4m homes
England needs to build 1.4 million homes more than already planned over the next 10 years to stop house prices rocketing, to make housing more affordable and to house the homeless, a Treasury report has claimed.
Conservationists said that if the recommendations for a doubling in the rate of building were carried out it would mean the building of the equivalent of a city the size of Manchester on greenfield sites alone within the next five years.
The report on the housing supply by the economist Kate Barker, a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, said a massive increase in building was needed if house price inflation was to be reduced to levels seen elsewhere in Europe.
The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, and the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, commissioned the report, which said that to reduce the real terms rise in house prices to 1.1 per cent a year, the EU average, an extra 120,000 homes would have to be built by the private sector.
On top of this, up to 23,000 “social” homes a year – housing association homes for rent or part-ownership – were needed, at a cost to the Treasury of up to £1.6 billion a year. This was underlined by the fact that there is a backlog of 93,000 people in unsatisfactory rented accommodation compared with 46,000 in 1995.
The report was welcomed by builders as a corrective to the anti-development lobby, even though it contained proposals for a windfall tax on profits from the boom that would ensue if the Government adopted the Barker recommendations.
Mr Brown’s Budget Report – which goes far beyond what he says in the Commons – disclosed that the Government intended to fund the cost of the new “social” housing from the uplift in land values, at some time in the future.
Miss Barker proposed that incentives should be given to local authorities to support development by allowing them to keep the council tax revenues from new development for three years.
But she admitted that the enviromental impact of her proposals had not been taken into account and were a matter for ministers. Even if all the homes she recommended were built, only three quarters of one per cent of England’s land area would be taken up over 10 years.
Her year-long review of the housing supply said drastic changes would be needed in the planning system to make it more responsive to the need to build more houses in areas with soaring prices of flats.
It called for the establishment of Regional Planning Executives, new quangos under the control of yet-to-be elected regional assemblies, which would identify shortages and suggest quicker decisions about planning to elected members. It also called for more use to be made of “special purpose vehicles” such as Urban Development Corporations to build new towns and villages.
Mr Brown did not endear himself to conservationists by accepting the thrust of Miss Barker’s recommendations only six hours after they were published.
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England said the report would result in an “unacceptacle environmental disaster” and impose huge costs upon the Exchequer in paying for the extra roads, hospitals, schools and police.
The House Builders’ Federation said the report confirmed that the only solution to the housing supply crisis was an increase in housing provision and a planning system that allowed the new homes to be built.
Shelter, the homelessness charity, said the Chancellor’s Budget announcement failed to address the scale and urgency of the crisis and ignored the call in the Barker report for large state investment in “social” housing.
Adam Sampson, Shelter’s director, said: “The housing crisis has come to pass because of successive governments’ failure to invest in housing. Yet the Chancellor has ducked the opportunity presented by Barker’s report to signal that he will commit extra cash to end the crisis.
“The proposal to pay for desperately needed homes from a land tax at some distant point in the future will be a terrible blow to the record numbers of homeless.”