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Sat June 15 2024

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Redrow boss hits out at local authorities

3 Nov 11 Redrow chairman Steve Morgan is blaming local authority planners for impeding the UK’s economic recovery.

Steve Morgan
Steve Morgan

At the company’s annual general meeting in Flintshire today, he will tell shareholders that local authorities are delaying decisions on planning applications for housebuilding projects that are needed to drive economic growth.

Redrow alone has more than 5,000 proposed new homes blocked in the planning process.

“The lessons of history are there for all to see,” Mr Morgan says. “During the period 1932-39 it was the huge growth in private house building that largely led the UK economic recovery, providing hundreds of thousands of new jobs and solving the chronic housing shortage of the day.  The parallels with today's issues are profound.

“In July the government issued its draft national planning policy framework (NPPF) for consultation, a process which ended some three weeks ago.  The proposed NPPF represents the biggest change to planning policy in decades.  Providing its principles are not watered down it should produce a speedier and more balanced planning system and a platform for the growth in new house building which the country desperately needs.

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“The existing planning environment remains frustratingly slow and costly, with far too many local authorities using the current hiatus as an excuse to impede and delay planning applications. “

He said that Redrow alone has 30 live planning applications for 5,219 plots that are either delayed beyond the 13 week statutory determination period or subject to appeal.

He adds: “As most sites are purchased subject to planning, the positive side to the planning delays has been a reduction in net debt from a year end position of £75m to £68m, representing a gearing level of 15%. Our balance sheet is strong, which leaves us well placed to pursue the right opportunities as they arise.

“We are living in times of great economic uncertainty, which weighs heavily on the market.  Yet despite the poor economic news there remains strong underlying demand for new homes.”

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