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60 seconds with… Andrew Whitaker, planning director, Home Builders Federation

Whitaker

If you were in control of housing in the next Government, how would you increase output?

It is great that whoever forms the new government will be committed to increasing supply. The fact that all parties are making such commitments, and that housing is so high on the agenda, is a significant and welcome development. To deliver on its commitments, the new government needs to work closely with the housebuilding industry to develop polices and create an environment within which it can deliver.  

What are the biggest barriers to building more homes?

In the short term, a lack of affordable mortgages. People simply have not been able to afford the deposits required. Help to Buy helped to address this and has played a huge part in the increase in output over the past two years. A continuation of such support measures is thus absolutely key. If buyers can buy, builders can build. The main longer-term constraint has been the planning system. The new government must continue to refine the National Planning Policy Framework so that it delivers more implementable permissions more quickly. We also need more ‘players on the pitch’, so measures to assist smaller builders to get building need prioritising.

How optimistic are builders about achieving 200,000 new homes a year in the next parliament?

History shows us we can build at that level but we need an operating environment that allows it. A stable economic and policy environment is key, as are measures to assist on the demand and supply sides and policies that ensure all sections of the industry can contribute. 

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

That you can do anything you set your mind to. If you want to achieve it, nothing holds you back except yourself.

Who is your all-time hero and why?

Perry Mason. I have always been fascinated with courtroom drama, whether fictional or real life, and own a complete set of the 82 novels by Earle Stanley Gardner. Mason always solved the case through his own tenacity yet also acknowledged the vital contributions from his team.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Flying. 

Do you have any secret talents?

I am quite good at juggling and own some juggling equipment – balls, clubs, knives, fire sticks, etcetera.

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