Barker to urge boost for housebuilding

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The Independent Online

The Government will be told this week that the pace of housebuilding in the UK needs to increase dramatically and that planning laws should be reformed.

The Government will be told this week that the pace of housebuilding in the UK needs to increase dramatically and that planning laws should be reformed.

The findings of the Barker Review will be published on Wednesday. An interim report of the review, published in December, found that the UK was in need of an extra 54,000 new homes a year. Its final report is expected to recommend an overhaul of planning laws to kick start the building process. According to Wilson Bowden, a leading housebuilder, the Government is losing out on £842m by stalling on the development of new homes. It says the time taken from planning application to completion has risen from about five months in 1998 to up to 18 months today. An increasing number of applications are refused, with some 25 per cent now rejected.

If 54,000 homes were sold at an average price of £120,000, Wilson Bowden says, the Government would get £265m in corporation tax, £427m in income tax, £86m in stamp duty on land sales and £64m in stamp duty on house sales. "The total figure of £842m demonstrates the size of the prize available to Government if it is willing to tackle the underlying cause of Britain's housing shortage - land supply and planning delays," Ian Robertson, chief executive of Wilson Bowden, said yesterday. Mr Robertson called on housebuilders and Government to set up a coalition to break the "anti-development culture" in housebuilding.

However, some experts fear the Chancellor, wanting to cash in on the buoyant housing market, will introduce VAT on the sale of new homes. James Selby, of the accountants Wilkins Kennedy, said: "Adding a level of VAT to the cost of new homes could restrict the housing supply still further and without some relief for starter homes, getting a foothold on the property ladder will be even more difficult."

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