THE amount of “red tape” in the planning process is restricting the availability of affordable homes for first-time buyers in Wales, a Gwent AM has said.

Speaking in the Assembly this week South Wales East’s Mohammad Asghar said he was concerned the amount of work involved in applying for and obtaining planning permission meant it was taking longer for new homes to become available.

He was speaking after the founder of Wales’ biggest housebuilder Redrow said speeding up the planning process and allowing more homes to be built was key to tackling the housing crisis.

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Addressing housing and local government minister Julie James the Conservative AM said: “Steve Morgan, the founder of Redrow, said recently that the best way to combat the housing crisis is to speed up planning permission to enable more houses to be built.

South Wales Argus:

(South Wales East’s Mohammad Asghar)

“He went on to say that the rules and directives have choked the system, meaning fewer houses are being built, which, in turn, makes it difficult for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder.

“Does the minister agree that the planning process for new housing is too slow and has a lot of red tape in it?”

Replying, Ms James said she agreed there is a case to be made for simplifying the process for smaller developers, but larger companies, such as Redrow, should continue to abide by strict rules.

“My view, actually, is that we need to strengthen our planning rules around size, type and demand for those kinds of developments, so that we have sustainable communities being built with the right kinds of infrastructure alongside the houses, and not just urban sprawl, which can occur where you remove planning consent regimes,” she said.

The Welsh Government has estimated up to 9,700 new homes will be needed in Wales every year for the next four years.