Smaller building firms being hampered by a lack of available land

Smaller building firms being hampered by a lack of available land [Photo: Justin Horrocks via iStock]

Smaller building firms across the UK are being held back in their efforts to contribute to the required numbers of new homes needed nationwide by the lack of available land to build on, it has been claimed. 

The government wants to see more than a million homes built by the end of this decade across the country, but despite small and medium building companies making up a large proportion of the available firms to help make this a reality, they are struggling to be able to find land suitable to do so. 

In a report from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), the lack of available land is the biggest hurdle cited by smaller builders in 2016. Two-thirds of respondents said that they believe a lack of land is their largest issue, compared to half who said planning permission gets in their way. It is the second year in a row that these types of companies have said that this is the biggest problems that they face. 

It is often the case for smaller companies that they find they are overlooked in favour of larger companies, which means they can't find the land they need to construct homes. 

"The current focus on large sites is squeezing out smaller developers, which is reducing competition in the housing market at a time when we need more, not less, choice. The limited supply of opportunities for small scale development is one of a number of key structural constraints that has seen the number of homes built by SMEs decline from around two thirds in the late 1980s to less than a quarter today," said Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB.

The FMB said that in many cases, small and medium builders are not being seen as an important part of the strategy for building enough homes by the government, and it encouraged the government to see their value. 

"This means a renewed focus on granting planning permission to small sites. At the same time, the government needs to press ahead with its proposed planning reforms, including a presumption in favour of small scale development," Mr Berry said.