CMA finds concerns in housebuilding market

Too few homes are being built across Britain, partly due to a “complex and unpredictable” planning system, according to a new report.

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also cited the limitations of speculative private development, which results in a gap between what developers are building and what communities need.

And it highlighted concerns about estate management charges on new-build developments for the management of facilities such as roads, drainage and green spaces, and about the quality of new homes.

The competition watchdog’s study into the housebuilding market in England, Scotland and Wales identified “persistent shortfalls”, with fewer than 250,000 homes built last year — well below the target of 300,000 for England alone.

“Significant intervention” is necessary to ensure that enough good quality homes are delivered in the places that people need them, said CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell.

“Our report — which follows a year-long study — is recommending a streamlining of the planning system and increased consumer protections. If implemented, we would expect to see many more homes built each year, helping make homes more affordable. We would also expect to see fewer people paying estate management charges on new estates and the quality of new homes to increase.

“But even then, further action may be required to deliver the number of homes Great Britain needs in the places it needs them.”

The CMA also said that its investigation had uncovered evidence suggesting “information sharing” between housebuilders, which could be distorting competition and influencing the prices of new homes.

Although it is not one of the main drivers of the problems in the market, a new investigation has been set up to examine this issue and will include eight developers: Barratt, Bellway, Berkeley, Bloor Homes, Persimmon, Redrow, Taylor Wimpey and Vistry.