Taken from the July/August 2014 issue of Housebuilder magazine.
The dust has now well and truly settled on the local and European elections and commentators have finished kicking through the results to work out the impact they will have on the main event - next year’s general election.
But for house builders up and down the land the local elections were important in their own right. Changes in party or even just in the personalities running local councils can have a dramatic impact on your ability to deliver a planning permission or a land allocation.
That is why for nearly 15 years PPS has been collating all the local election results into a wall chart so you can see at a glance which party controls the Council you are about to deal with. You will find this year’s chart free in this edition of House Builder and if you need more information we now have a digital version with all the background details at www.whorunsmycouncil.co.uk.
House building is looking increasingly likely to be a key issue as the parties jockey for position in the coming 12 months. This is not just because of the familiar questions of lack of supply, pressure on green fields and demands by NIMBYs to keep our land green and pleasant. Rather, it is because of the degree to which the industry is now seen as being central to our economic prospects.
This month the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published its annual assessment of the state of the UK economy. The report was largely positive, concluding that “good macro-economic performance is expected to persist.” However, the IMF’s French Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, warned that the major threat to recovery was rising house prices and a housing led credit boom. The rising prices, the report said, are caused by inadequate house building and onerous planning regulations. It said that attempts to limit demand through, for instance, restrictions on mortgage lending “can only be temporary palliatives to an underlying problem”. The credit boom was spurred by the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. This was welcomed by the IMF, though they fretted about its future growth and warned that the Treasury should reconsider whether it is needed for the full three years.
So house builders have an ally in a French woman running the body dedicated to fostering global growth and economic stability. Who would have thought it?