ONE of Scotland’s biggest Housebuilders has said the Scottish Government’s target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes by 2021 will be “extremely challenging” because council budget cuts are delaying statutory approval for large developments.

CCG director Calum Murray was speaking as the company reported a £100 million project pipeline leading into 2018 with an increased focus on affordable housing.

“The rationalisation of local government is undeniably having an impact because departments are struggling to cope,” said Mr Murray. “That is not a straightforward challenge.”

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The most recent figures show it takes an average of 44.9 weeks to get a planning decision on a major application, which is defined as more than 50 homes. That is four weeks longer than a year ago.

“These statutory approvals, if you don’t get them you can’t put a brick in the ground,” he said. “There has to be improvement, there is a huge lock-up in value and jobs in there. So the earlier that can be released the more beneficial it is to the economy.”

He added local authorities and housing associations had to help drive delivery, and CCG was seeing an increase in enquiries from these bodies.

“They are recognising there are a number of constraints to delivery of that potential: construction availability, labour, skills shortage, the capacity within the industry. It will be stretched,” he said.

Having recorded revenue of £120m last year, and seen profits dip 80 per cent to £1.8m, Mr Murray said pursuit of the 2021 target would help CCG steer turnover north of £140m next year.

“The strategic focus we’ve taken in our business to concentrate in the affordable housing sector and on working in collaboration with partners is beginning to pay

benefits,” he said.

“There is a significant amount of business booked in and we are on course for a significant uplift to March 2018. We’ve already got levels secured we haven’t seen for some time for the following year.”

Mr Murray also said while the 2021 target was important, more houses were needed.

“The housing demand in Scotland is not going to diminish,” he said. “The issue will be resource within central government to continue to feed that demand. The 50,000 homes will have an impact but we need to do more, we need to build across a wider geography and we need to build faster.”

The group’s turnover in affordable housing was 65 per cent of its total last year and Mr Murray expects this to rise to 75 per cent. Conversely, its commercial turnover was 31 per cent and that is down to 21 per cent.

The Cambuslang-based business has commenced 10 housing projects since January and is currently working on 14 projects across the country comprising almost 1,000 new, mixed tenure homes, with four more projects set to commence. Its 650 staff and 62 apprentices are being kept busy, said Mr Murray.

In addition to traditional build contracts, CCG operates an off-site manufacturing plant at its Cambuslang headquarters and is also continuing to innovate.

This includes the construction of the tallest timber structure in Scotland. The seven-story residential housing development in

Yoker is being built from cross-

laminate timber.

Working with specialist contractor, Eurban, CCG was able to install the building’s superstructure to be wind and water tight in a net period of just 16 weeks.

Mr Murray said CCG chairman and chief executive Alastair Wylie had always taken a pioneering approach to building.

Elsewhere in the sector, high-end housebuilder Cala was the subject of speculation that it is in talks with potential buyers after a £700m sale to Chinese property group Evergrande fell through.

Following the £655m sale of Miller Homes to private equity group Bridgepoint last week, Cala is believed to be in discussions with private equity firms and pension funds. Cala said it did not comment on speculation.