The property and construction sector were left relativly underwhelmed by the Chancellor’s Budget as it emerged the long awaited announcement on planning guidance had been put off until next week.
Mr Osbourne said the new National Planning Policy Framework would reduce planning guidance from 1,000 pages to 50 and would be the biggest cut in red tape in a generation, a move welcomed by Stephen Hollowood, senior director at GVA.
He said: “The Chancellor touched on its planning reforms and gave final confirmation that it would be presented on Tuesday. The principles of the NPPF should be applauded.
"However, while simplification of the planning system is needed, it is the lack of finance and appropriate levels of funding that continue to be the biggest obstacle. No matter how simple the planning system becomes, it will not in itself spark development and regeneration. Developers are crying out for access to finance on appropriate, commercially viable terms.”
Mart Baxter, business development director at Shaylor Group, felt that the Chancellor had once again done little tangiable for the construction industry.
“As in previous budgets, there is very little that is new for construction,” he said. “The New Buy scheme, which has been welcomed, was introduced last week although an expansion of the Get Britain Building fund was announced.
"Making it easier for both buyers to get mortgages and for construction firms to build should provide a boost to the housing side of the construction industry. For the rest of the industry, there is increased investment in infrastructure, which remains the strongest sector. Measures to support growth in other sectors such as energy may also translate into an increase in construction activity region.”
Peter Owen, managing director of the Midlands operation of construction firm Willmott Dixon, felt that the initiatives would be of some help but the main issues had not been tackled.
He said: “The Chancellor’s announcement that the £400m Get Britain Building Fund is to be increased by a further £150m for construction firms building new homes is welcome news for the construction industry, particularly in the Midlands. The fund is intended to pump prime residential sites that have planning permission but lack development financ.
"There are many such sites lying idle around the Midlands and the extra finance being made available through the fund could be just what is needed to kick-start development. However, development finance is not always the issue: much of it is to do with confidence, and a developer’s capacity to take on risk.”
The Budget “fails to go far enough” according to Mark Clapham, rating director at Lambert Smith Hampton.
He said: “The government’s announcement of reduced corporation taxes, potential enterprise loans and enterprise zone rate allowances are incremental in the face of an anticipated business rate yield of £26 billion in 2012/13.The Enterprise Zone allowances are limited by European competition rules and will not extend beyond £50,000 per annum at the behest of the local authority.’’
He added: “The shortage of good new supply to the market, in the absence of any incentive for developers to borrow and build, is storing up shortages of grade
"A stock which will hinder economic recovery over the next 18 months. With the bombshell of the UK’s industrial wasteland, post recession, there is an urgent need to reignite the development and regeneration of urban areas with real incentives to build grade A accommodation fit for the 21st century.”