NINE out of 10 local authorities believe that they will not be able to meet the government’s housing targets because of a lack of expertise in their planning departments.
Cash-strapped councils need to hire more experienced and costly planning officers if any increase in new housing is to be seen, research published yesterday suggests.
About 200 councillors, local government officials and builders were interviewed as part of the survey by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and the Local Government Information Unit.
The government wants to build one million new homes by 2020, with less than 500,000 having been built between 2011 and 2014.
The report looked at unlocking development on smaller sites, where most councils currently deliver less than 40 per cent of their housing.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Too often, small sites are dealt with entirely by inexperienced officers.
“There simply aren’t enough senior and experienced planners to make the system work effectively.
“The government deserves some credit for the priority it is now placing on house building, but unless planning departments have enough experienced planners on the ground, our housing targets will be nothing more than aspirational.”
As well as making development firms pay more in planning application fees, the report also calls for neighbouring councils to share their experienced staff members to save on costs.