House planning system in Wales is in need of radical overhaul.
Secretary of State for Wales David Jones MP will call for a radical overhaul of the planning system as figures show Wales is lagging behind the rest of Great Britain with new house building.
Mr Jones will make a keynote speech the annual Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) conference will highlight how the system is bogged down by bureaucracy and red tape and has led to a fall in the number of houses being built.
The latest figures from the ONS show output in Wales lagging behind Great Britain in construction and housing, over the last year, new house building decreased by 6.7% in Wales while growth of 33.6% was recorded across Great Britain.
Statistics from the National House Building Council show that construction fell in Wales from January to March 2014 but not around the rest of the UK. Some 882 new homes were registered this year, compared with 1,055 in that period in 2013.
Wales’s biggest housebuilder, Redrow based in Ewloe, has estimated that as a result of Welsh Government requirements for the sustainable building code and for all new homes to be fitted with sprinklers, by 2016 the cost of building a house in Wales will be up to £13,000 more than across the border in England.
Another major housebuilder, Persimmon Homes, said last year that it would stop new home construction in parts of the south Wales valleys, blaming planning rules and the cost of regulation.
David Jones MP will also call for plans to levy a so called “Conservatory Tax” to be scrapped, households in Wales will be forced by the Welsh Government to spend hundreds or thousands of pounds on extra work to their homes in addition to the cost of any extension or home improvement work.
Mr Jones will highlight how the policy – set to start next month in Wales – was rejected by the UK Government in England after research showed it would discourage nearly 40% of households from undertaking home improvements in the first place.
In his speech Mr Jones will say:
The UK government is speeding up the planning process. Guidance has been simplified – reducing often 1,000 of pages of impenetrable jargon to around 50 pages of clearly written guidance.
Through our red tape challenge, almost half the housing and construction regulations considered will be scrapped or improved – changes which are estimated to save businesses nearly £90 million a year.
However, all too often the Welsh Government seems intent on increasing the regulatory burdens on councils, businesses and households rather than reducing them.