Need for action

Home supply hit by ‘negative views’ of sector

There is a chronic shortage of new homes (pic: Terry Murden)

Negative attitudes towards the housebuilding sector are causing a chronic shortage of homes, deterring investors and damaging the social fabric of the nation, says an industry leader.

Jane Wood, chief executive of Homes for Scotland, is calling for a rethink across government and wider society on how to address what she describes as a spiralling housing crisis.

A new five-year strategy Home building as a force for good is released to today and highlights a “worrying downward trend in the number of new homes being started”.

In addition to the 110,000 homes shortfall which has accumulated since 2008, latest Scottish Government figures show a decline of 12% in home building starts overall and a 27% reduction in social housing approvals. 

In an address to a HFS event today Ms Wood will say: “From health and education to jobs and investment, housing impacts every area of our lives and is key to advancing social justice and tackling inequality, but we simply don’t have enough homes.

“Unfortunately, home building is a hugely politicised and contentious issue and I’m calling on those of us who already have homes to be more supportive of those who don’t.”

She adds: “Delivery challenges across the sector have never been greater, from rising costs and skills shortages to planning delays and changes to building standards as part of the transition to net zero.

“These barriers are now making it harder than ever to build new homes in Scotland. Our sector is not able to compete on a level playing field compared to elsewhere in the UK.

“SME builders, in particular, are bearing the brunt with their numbers having already declined significantly and with the viability of many projects in doubt, some smaller home builders have abandoned home building plans altogether.   

Jane Wood: We need urgent action (pic: Terry Murden)

“The housing crisis has already had a drastic and far-reaching impact on Scotland’s economic and social development. If we don’t get this sorted, the consequences on the life chances of future generations will be even worse.”

On average, major housing applications are taking 39 weeks to reach a decision from the time of registration. The national target for determining major housing applications is 16 weeks.

Ms Wood says that as well as the barriers relating to planning and regulation, negative perceptions of home building have far-reaching consequences, impacting the sector’s ability to get on with delivering more homes.

She says misinformation and opposition to new developments continues to have an effect while only 2.1% of land in Scotland is built upon, the lowest level in the UK. 

“I am asking us all to pause and reflect before condemning the building of new homes, recognising the urgent and critical need that exists right across the spectrum.

“It’s time to embrace the benefits new homes bring and for the voices of the silent majority to be heard by those who influence and direct local and national policy,” she says.

“We need urgent action with better collaborative working between key players to solve what is a chronic issue and help stimulate growth.”

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