Housebuilder attacks critics of planning overhaul

The head of the Redrow housebuilder waded into the debate on planning permission yesterday, dismissing opponents of the Government's reforms as selfish, emotional scaremongers.

Revealing a healthy jump in full-year profits, Redrow's chairman and founder Steve Morgan fully endorsed government plans to relax the planning system significantly as it seeks to boost the economy and allow for cheaper homes.

"[Critics] are saying that we're creating an urban sprawl, which is just emotional, scaremongering claptrap. The reality is far from the truth. If we as an industry built what the country requires we will build on significantly less than 1 per cent of the land in the country," said Mr Morgan, who owns the Premier League football club Wolverhampton Wanderers.

This week, the Government reiterated plans to drive through the biggest shake-up in Britain's planning system for 60 years despite a wave of protest.

Opponents of the shake-up are concerned by a controversial presumption in the government proposals in favour of development which could be used to overrule community attempts to protect their land, threatening areas of outstanding beauty.

In his diatribe, Mr Morgan said the critics are "well-heeled people who are already very comfortable in their own environment. It's OK for them, but [what about] the young people who can't afford to buy their own home?"

Yesterday Redrow reported a £25.3m pre-tax profit for the year to the end of June, compared with a £700,000 surplus the year before. The company benefited from a 12 per cent rise in the average price of its houses to £174,100, helped by a switch in focus from smaller houses and flats.

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