Builders and housing developers fear that where current permissions lapse, projects will have to re-submit to the planning process once work resumes. This will stall work and delay the nation’s return to full economic productivity.
Extending planning permissions is just one of a package of measures put forward by the National Federation of Builders (NFB) and the House Builders Association (HBA).
They point out that the last time the economy crashed in 2008, a third of house-builders ceased trading, 100,000 construction jobs were lost and industry has still not fully recovered.
The coronavirus crisis is far more devastating and wider reaching than the 2008 crash and has the potential to see widespread closures across the entire industry, they say.
NFB chief executive Richard Beresford said: “We are in constant dialogue with our members and they have put forward their current top needs to help the industry survive and recover from the coronavirus. During this crisis, the government has already proved it’s willing to listen to industry and it must continue to do so, if we stand any hope of protecting those who will drive our economic recovery.”
The NFB has put six proposals to government to help protect the industry. These are
1. Include construction companies and housebuilders in the business rates relief exemption – allowing reduced cost burden while business does not receive income
2. Immediately suspend planning contribution (CIL/section 106) payments – businesses will be paying a tax on an income that cannot be generated
3. Immediately suspend council tax charges on new build unoccupied/incomplete homes – homes cannot be sold or completed, therefore will not use any council services
4. Automatically extend all planning permissions by a year – work has ground to a halt, permissions are lapsing and projects will take months to restart
5. Release written sector guidance for construction – this will ensure the wider industry continues operating, as, e.g., merchants, service providers have shut down, meaning homes cannot be sold or completed.
6. Open the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS) as soon as possible – the timeframe is too long and businesses will close while trying to manage their cash flow.
Richard Beresford said: “We must ensure that as many businesses remain resilient and have enough of their own cash to survive this pandemic. Our measures will help do that, especially as many companies are now not earning any revenues. If we don’t act now, thousands of companies and their supply chains will go to the wall.”
HBA head of housing and planning policy Rico Wojtulewicz added: “These measures will help to save thousands of small and medium sized house-builders. Without them, we haven’t got a hope of solving our housing and skills crisis, or levelling up our nation.”