Major obstacles to homebuilding growth in UK


The gauntlet has been thrown down to the construction industry. Its challenge is to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

However Adrian Rooney, housing and development director of Manchester-headquartered Bardsley Construction, says homebuilders face major obstacles in meeting that goal.

Adrian Rooney

He says the biggest issues are “the availability of sufficient land, labour and materials” – and “unblocking the planning system to ‘fast track’ opportunities”.

Rooney says: “We are seeing some sizeable land opportunities coming through, but generally, these have many challenges and are difficult to develop sites, with some needing extensive remediation – all of which will take time and are costly to develop.

“We also have to question whether some of the sites are in the right locations where housing demand is greatest, with the necessary infrastructure and support networks in place or whether markets are being created.

“On the positive side we have seen a significant increase in the provision of housing for older persons, generally in the forms of extra care and extra care ‘lite’. We have six such schemes in development, with more in the pipeline.”

Gareth Roberts, regional managing director at Keepmoat Homes, says North West buyers continue to take advantage of the government’s Help to Buy scheme and competitive mortgage products to purchase new homes.

However, he also warns that land availability and acquisition remain “a challenge for every housebuilder”.

Roberts adds: “In the North West there are certainly land opportunities, but some landowners still have inflated expectations of value which fail to take into account any abnormal development and, or, planning policy costs which will hamper the value.

“We all know the role of the landowner is key and our ability to bring forward a new housing development relates directly to our ability to be able to generate a sufficient land value to incentivise the landowner to sell.”

There is also the challenge of the construction sector’s “much-discussed” skills gap, says Roberts.

“Tackling this challenge is something as a business we are always seeking to do, whether it’s through promoting the career opportunities that are available within the industry at schools or supporting local further education providers such as colleges and universities through work experience programmes and apprenticeships.

“We have run a number of programmes with local training providers and schools which have supported a number of people to enter training and employment and in particular amongst school leavers.”

Adam Posner, KPMG associate director and head of property and construction for the North West, says: “The country needs 300,000 new houses a year, we have got to deliver on that, but it is going to take time to close that gap.

“We need to be smarter as an industry. Modular housing is a really exciting and positive development for the industry. We’re seeing investment in this and it has the potential to make a real impact.”