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Saturday, May 19, 2007

A BUILDER'S TALE

The Scotsman had an article today on how we may be about to face a FALL in house prices & what a catastrophe that would be. I commented on why it better for things to cost less rather than more & that all that is needed for a real house price fall is for builders to be allowed to build. I have said this before & needn't repeat here however it produced 2 interesing posts for a builder which I think bear repeating.
47 Neil says "Technologically it would be simple to produce good, inexpensive housing. Politically you would have to face down so many vested interests"

absolutely spot on.

I am currently working on a housing project which has been in development for 6 years!

The hoops the local authority concerned has made us go through would be unbelieveable to anybody not in the industry. We're just about to go on site, but that has taken 6 years and a million quid! Grrrrr.

it would take all day to describe how difficult it is to get housing projects through the Planning system.

&

the new building regs are a definite step in the right direction. Will actually improve space standards quite a bit - some of the private builders are panicking about it as their space standards have been atrocious. Don't have problem with that, but it's all the other infinitely regressing steps you have to go through to get projects approved which are so frustrating.

e.g. to build a housing scheme you usually need Roads Construction Consent from the local authority. But Roads won't START looking at the RCC until Planning has been granted. There are supposed to be 3 month timescales for both Planning and RCC these are rarely met. One part of the project I mentioned above had outline planning approved in 2004. The detailed planning application was rejected so it was redesigned and another detailed application submitted in November 2005. Still not decided, 2 and half years after that. 3 month timescale? Hopefully it will be approved and then and only then will the council formally consider the RCC.

Third party consents also take forever - the local authority has to get formal comment from the likes of SEPA, SNH, Scottish Water on planning applications. Flood risk assesement can be a particular problem because councils, SEPA and SW all pass the buck. Ditto sewerage capacity.

Takes forever. Even getting comment internally from various council departments can take ages.

The project mentioned above needed a formal view from HSE because it is near a distillery. HSE wouldn't speak to us directly, and wouldn't give a timescale for a response. That took nearly a year to resolve and we had to go to the Minister in the end to get a reply. Aaaaargh!

I very much welcome the suggested review of the Quangos - there has got to be a simpler way of doing things than the present guddle.

I am informed that the government rules on cubic space per person have actually become smaller since the 60s so this may be a sign of a welcome reversal, or it may just be producing the ever initially popular targets.

There are quite often comments online on papers which are far more informative than the articles themselve, partly because better informed & partly because they feel free to speak honestly in a way journalists clearly don't. To be fair there are also far more which aren't, but this is one of the former.

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