John Callcutt’s recent housing review received a warm reception at the Thames Gateway Forum yesterday.

Callcutt’s review said house-builders are capable of achieving the government’s target of building 240,000 homes a year by 2016.

Speaking at a debate on the review at the Thames Gateway Forum yesterday Elliott Lipton, chief executive of urban property developer First Base, said the review was an accurate assessment of the industry – but the attitude of local authorities towards planning needs to change.

‘I think John has produced an excellent analysis of the industry,’ he said. ‘He has recognised that the challenges are not insurmountable but they are not easy.

‘We need to incentivise local authorities to show they can financially benefit from this.

‘If we are to move forward we have to change perceptions, I believe the new Homes and Communities Agency must have a mandate to facilitate this.’

Lipton was talking at a discussion with Callcutt, director general of housing and planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government Richard McCarthy, and Thames gateway chief executive Judith Armitt.

Rewarding good design

The report was praised by McCarthy, who agreed planning was crucial for meeting the targets.

‘We particularly welcome that the review agrees with our house-building target,’ he said.

‘I’m encouraging local authorities to reject poor design but good design should be recognised by planning authorities so developers feel a sense of reward.’

But, he said, developers, particularly large house-builders, need to be submitting viable planning applications from the start of the planning process and not waiting for applications to be rejected and adjusting them accordingly.

The Department of Communities and Local Government will publish it’s response to the review next year.