The chief executive of Homes England has acknowledged issues with brownfield land registers and warned of a crisis in the construction industry.
Nick Walkley said there had been problems in the initial roll-out of the government’s brownfield registers, which LGC reported on last month. LGC reported how some councils had not published the full extent of their brownfield land, which one academic called a “missed opportunity” to grow the small and medium sized enterprise builder sector.
Speaking at a Local Government Association conference on housing yesterday Mr Walkley said: “It’s inevitable that when something is new that its imperfect.
“There is work in the [Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government] to support these brownfield registers digitally. There is a real opportunity here – through greater transparency on the land councils hold and how they’re publishing it.”
Mr Walkley added: “There is a correlation between councils who have filled out the brownfield registers well and those with a strong traction of who is building in the local area - [Understanding] who are the SMEs and who is building. The registers create good options for councils.”
Mr Walkely said the government’s target of building 300,000 new homes a year is an “economic indicator” and a means to manage house pricing inflation.
“We’re seeing a housing crisis across the country and particularly in city centres,” he said. “Private rent is becoming really expensive and families across a number of tenures are finding it difficult.”
He recommended councillors read the 2017 Farmer review of the UK construction labour model, and added the construction industry is “still building homes like we did 100 years ago”.
“We’ve got a crisis in our aging construction workforce, with 20-40% retiring in the near future,” he said.