In a keynote speech at Property Week’s RESI 10 event in Newport, Morgan said that the lack of detailed policy from the Coalition after scrapping regional housing targets had forced councils to “shut up shop”.
He highlighted problems in Leeds where the local authority had halved housing numbers. “For Leeds, read many others,” he told 850 delegates at the Celtic Manor.
Morgan said: “The new government firmly believes that by starving the local authorities of capital, whilst at the same time providing a financial reward for new development, this will do the trick. And believe me, it will in certain parts of the country where housing renewal is desperately needed.”
But he added: “Regarding the financial incentives, if the government thinks that in the leafy suburbs a few extra quid will work, then I suggest the Ministers come along to one of our public consultations and see the abuse that we frequently have to endure from some of the local residents.”
Morgan said that “the chronic shortage” of mortgage lending was the most urgent issue facing the industry. But he claimed that the planning system was “the underlying cause of what is wrong in UK housing”, and he slammed past Labour and Conservative governments for creating a planning system that had become “a barrier to both entry and entrepreneurship”.
He said a succession of government reviews and laws intended to streamline the system had instead made it “even more complicated and cumbersome”. It takes up to five years to secure planning permission while the associated bureaucratic costs have “gone off the Richter Scale” since the 1980s.
Morgan said: “It is a sad reflection of the system where it has now become the norm that more people are involved in the preparation of the countless reports required for planning applications than are employed on site building the houses. Indeed, Redrow, as the fifth largest house builder in the UK by volume, last year spent more money on planning and planning related fees than it did on bricks.”
He added: “In truth I don’t blame the planners – they are only doing their job and in many ways they are just as much fed up with the red tape as we are. What I do blame is the unholy mess that successive governments have piled on to our industry via the planning system.”