Redrow 'spending more on planning than bricks'

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The Independent Online

The founder of house-builder Redrow hit out at the burden of council red-tape today after revealing that his firm now spends more money on dealing with the "comical" planning system than it does on bricks.

Redrow executive chairman Steve Morgan, who last year returned to the helm of the firm he set up in 1974, said he was dismayed "by the sheer levels of bureaucracy and red tape that have crept into the planning system".



He said the length of time required to secure planning approval had impacted on the company's launch of its New Heritage Collection, which it hopes will place traditional family housing back at the forefront of its range.



Mr Morgan, who is the owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers, added: "The list of documents required to accompany planning applications verges on the comical.



"Even the simplest of planning applications frequently takes many months to secure approval and indeed there are many examples where the months turn into years. It is reflective of the system that Redrow, as one of the UK's largest home builders, now spends more money on planning and planning-related fees than it does on bricks."



Mr Morgan called for the current planning system to be streamlined: "The result would be an increased supply of new housing, significantly more employment and a major stimulus to the UK economy."



His comments came as Redrow announced a 25% rise in half-year revenues to £187.2 million and said pre-tax losses reduced by 81% to £8.7 million in the six months to December 31.



Assisted by the recent recovery in the housing market, Redrow said legal completions rose by 21.5% to 1,266.



Mr Morgan said the other major obstacles facing Redrow were the "chronic shortage" of suitable mortgage products and the negative valuations of valuers working on behalf of mortgage lenders.



He added: "This is a particular issue for first-time buyers, who desperately need the return of the 90% and 95% mortgage. Redrow's cancellation rate is running at around 18% and the overwhelming reason is due to mortgage availability and/or down valuations."

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