Planning delays drive up land prices, says Redrow

REDROW, one of Britain's top 10 housebuilders, yesterday launched a scathing attack on the Government, accusing the authorities of lacking the political will to reduce delays in the planning system.

Steve Morgan, Redrow's chairman, said the current system, which requires builders to seek approval from local councils to develop land, "frustrates development through constant delays."

He added: "The situation is going from bad to worse. Like it or not, there is a requirement to cater for the substantial increase in household formation in the UK. The planners and the government are aware of it and yet there seems to be little political will to address the situation."

Mr Morgan said planning delays were to blame for an acute shortage of land, which was driving open market land prices to "unacceptably high levels". As an example of the delays, he said Redrow had some 2,500 plots in its 11,700-plot landbank still waiting for planning permission, compared with 1,150 plots a year ago.

The Redrow chairman said the delays made a mockery of the Government's plans to encourage urban regeneration by building homes on so-called "brownfield sites" - areas formerly used for factories or other buildings.

"The planning delays are just as bad whether they be on brownfield or greenfield sites [unbuilt areas]," he said.

The comments came after Redrow reported a 34 per cent increase in pre- tax profit to pounds 48.2m in the year to June. Turnover increased 21 per cent to pounds 307.2m, while operating margins rose 15.6 per cent from 13.9 per cent last year. Total completions soared 14 per cent to 3,010.

Shares in Redrow firmed 2.5p to 145.5p.