Scottish housebuilder Cala Group has welcomed initial moves to bring reform to the planning system in England.
The Edinburgh-based group said cuts over several years had put the planning system under significant pressure and meant it was taking longer to get new build developments under way.
In its half-year update, the company said the UK Government’s recently published White Paper – which is titled ‘Fixing our broken housing market’ – was a welcome step in the right direction for the sector sourth of the border.
Cala has extensive interests in Scotland but is also progressing developments in the Home Counties, Midlands, Thames and Chiltern regions.
Chief executive Alan Brown said any efforts to streamline the planning regime were welcome.
“Following the release of the Housing White Paper, we were pleased to see that the Government recognises the need to further reform the planning system and we particularly welcome their plans to ensure that planning departments are better resourced via increased planning fees,” Mr Brown said.
“Planning departments have faced severe cuts in recent years which has in turn impacted developers’ ability to get on site and start building so any measures that will see local authorities boost their planning resources are a definite step in the right direction.”
Turning to Cala’s trading performance in the six months to December 31, Mr Brown said the firm had enjoyed a “very strong” period.
Net private home reservations were up 24% on 2015 at 610, although the average selling price fell from £529,000 last year to £504,000 due to a change in the types of homes being offered.
It said the group had contracted 17 new sites during the period, which comprises a potential 1,469 new plots with a gross development value of £640 million.
The majority of the new sites are in the south of England.
Mr Brown added: ““Encouragingly, the positive first half performance has continued into the second half with positive trading momentum since the start of the calendar year.
“In line with our ambitious growth plans, we are certainly doing our bit to increase the supply of family homes across the UK.
“Our focus in 2017 remains on scaling up and optimising the operational efficiency of our eight regional businesses, to deliver sustainable growth and an annual capacity of up to 2,500 homes within four years.
“The fundamentals underpinning the UK housing market are supportive, the land market remains robust and the mortgage environment continues to be positive.