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Small builders' innovation to be encouraged in tackling housing need

July 2021

A new inquiry studying housing demand will include looking at the part smaller builders can play in innovation and developing difficult sites.  Committee chair Baroness Neville-Rolfe told Housing Today: "You get some innovation and vibrancy and they do things that perhaps a bigger builder would not do. Historically there's quite a lot of smaller builders who have fallen by the wayside."

Responding, the National Federation of Builders said smaller builders were more adept at responding quicker to building homes in the right places.  NFB housing and planning policy head Rico Wojtulewicz said: "They're also more likely to embrace innovation and build better places. Their decline has been a major issue when producing solutions to solve the housing crisis and we should be doing everything we can to encourage their growth."

Baroness Neville-Rolfe pointed out that the number of households in England is projected to rise by 3.7 million over the next 20 years.  She said meeting this demand was not just a question of numbers, but of balancing where and what kind of buildings people wanted to live in.

The committee will examine the government's 300,000 annual homes target and how to balance this with the types of housing needed. She said that the country's changing demographics with more single households and older people wanting different types of housing would be looked at.  Construction skills shortages and specific aspects of the planning system such as what role permitted development rights can play and how to engage communities in planning will be studied.

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