A leading land agent has criticised those doubting the government's ability to build a million new homes by 2020.
Adam Hesse, land and planning director at Aston Mead, says the UK's 'planning pessimists' could create a 'self-fulfilling prophecy.
The government's pledge to provide a million new homes is at the heart of the Housing & Planning Bill, which received Royal Assent last month.
Official figures released last week show that builders finished work on 139,690 new homes in England in 2015/16 - the highest number of finished new properties since 2008/09.
The figures from the Department of Communities and Local Government show, however, that housing completions fell by 9% in the first quarter of this year when compared with the final quarter of 2015.
Housing starts are now 107% higher than the low recorded in early 2009, but remain 27% below the peak reached in the first quarter of 2007.
Hesse draws attention to a recent survey of housebuilders in which over half of respondents said they thought the target would not be met.
"A million homes by 2020 is perfectly possible – as the Home Builders Federation have stated quite clearly," he says.
The agent says he is still optimistic and references figures which show more than 180,000 new homes were delivered in 2014/15.
"By 2019 the big companies will be building double what they did six years ago," he says.
"Now we need to speed up the momentum even further, so that we ensure we reach the target of one million new homes by 2020.”
Hesse says it’s local councils - the largest landowners in the country – that will be key to the success of this project.
"They must get up-to-date housing plans in place, ensuring that they are robust and evidence-based," he explains.
"They should review their planning application process and the conditions attached to planning which represent such a major challenge for developers."
He says local councils must also streamline their planning and communication processes to allow building projects to begin more quickly.
Hesse goes on to praise several 'significant advances' in the housebuilding industry.
"Brownfield sites will now automatically be approved for building, with £10m worth of funding to help local authorities prepare them," he says.
"There are also plans to relax the planning rules for smaller house builders, enabling them to gain automatic planning permission on suitable sites."
He concludes by suggesting that changes to the section 106 agreement will enable developers to provide affordable homes to buy, instead of affordable homes for rent.