Letwin Review – Building Homes Almost as Important as Building Spitfires
Or in Boris’s words ‘F*** industry’
No measures proposed in leaked report – which suggests it has been watered down to nothing.
Ministers and officials must invoke Britain’s effort to build Spitfires during the Second World War to help construct the homes the country needs, one of the Government’s key housing advisers says today.
Sir Oliver Letwin, who is carrying out a major review for Theresa May, says infrastructure must be organised like wartime aircraft production to solve the housing crisis.
He warns that the slow provision of new power lines and transport links is holding up the construction of thousands of homes by “years and years”.
In an interview with The Telegraph, he calls for a new cross-government task force to co-ordinate the installation of utilities on large sites, warning that those involved in the process must “get their act together”.
Sir Oliver suggested that county councils, Highways England, National Grid and power firms were dragging their heels over providing the necessary infrastructure.
“When we were fighting the Second World War and we needed a lot of Spitfires, Lord Beaverbrook [then minister of aircraft production] got to work and just mobilised a lot of people so that all the things you needed for Spitfires were got into the right bit of the factory. Britain depended on it.
“This is not that urgent, but it is quite urgent. It is a major plank of policy and it has a big effect economically. Somebody has got to go round and actually get all the bits together so you can get the Spitfires. At the moment that doesn’t happen.”Sir Oliver’s analysis found delays of up to 12 years before final planning permissions had even been granted on large sites. He said: “It would be much better if our country were one in which once someone’s decided that there’s a large area of post-industrial land which it would be really useful to build on, somebody actually got their act together and got the infrastructure in place.”
Sir Oliver’s review of “buildout rates” began last year as Philip Hammond warned that there were “270,000 residential planning permissions unbuilt” in London alone. His interim report, seen by this newspaper, states that developers are taking an average of 15 years to build homes on the country’s biggest sites, even after the new infrastructure has been installed.
The veteran Tory said the rates at which large developments were built could be “substantially accelerated” if developers produced a greater variety of homes.
Sir Oliver also warns that a “rapid expansion” in the number of bricklayers will be needed to meet the Government’s home-building target.