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Retiring Barratt chief blames planners for housing shortage

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The outgoing chief executive of Britain's largest housebuilder, Barratt, has hit out at the country's planning system, claiming it is to blame for the lack of homes currently under construction.

David Pretty said that local authorities and planners have been 'buffeted by too many changes' and the system needs to be streamlined urgently 'if a whole generation of beleaguered first-time buyers is not to be sacrificed'.

The housing chief, who retires at the end of the year, went on to say that the planning system had 'deteriorated sharply in the past 10 years' and that the government should review its policies on brownfield development and the proposed planning gain supplement.

Pretty has also backed recent suggestions from the former Conservative cabinet minister John Gummer about a short-term planning amnesty (AJ 18.05.06).

He said: 'It may seem radical, but one of these [solutions] could be a short-term planning amnesty on minor domestic planning applications...We should question whether this is a sensible use of planners' time when there are so many pressing priorities.'

In addition, Pretty suggested a 'rebalancing of the democratic planning process' in order to 'relieve the welter of consultation, regulation and administration that has become so enmeshed in the system over the past 20 years'.

by Richard Waite

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