UK govt announces changes to shake up house planning and get more homes built

Taylor Scott International News

A series of planning reforms announced today by the UK government aimed at boosting house building have been widely welcomed by the property and construction industries Under the changes planning permission will be granted automatically for homes on brownfield sites, even over ruling wishes of local authorities in England. But experts warned that councils will not like the move although they have been heavily criticised for not creating local plans and taking too long to make decisions. Ministers will also get powers to seize disused land which is suitable for houses and major housing projects are set to be fast tracked through the planning system. There will be penalties for local authorities that make 50% or fewer planning decisions on time in a bid to inject some speed into the planning process. The rules on extensions in London are to be relaxed in terms of building upwards to match neighbouring levels and the Mayors of London and Manchester are to get power over planning in their cities. The British Property Federation (BPF) said the changes have the potential to be an enormous boon to housing supply but it warned that some of the new measures will only work if the government addresses the severe shortage of funds within local authority planning departments. The BPF also urged the government not to over focus on providing new homes for sale and pointed out that there is also a need for more purpose built rental accommodation in order to combat the housing shortage and deliver a more balanced housing market. Melanie Leech, chief executive of the BPF, British Property Federation, called for a dialogue with both the public and private sectors on how to address the severe shortage of funds which is afflicting local planning departments. ‘The private sector will need to play a part in helping to address this funds shortage, and this needs to be explored fully if we want these new measures to work. We would also have liked to have seen some commitment to growing the purpose built rental sector, which has an important part to play in solving the housing crisis and creating a balanced housing market,’ she said. ‘We warmly welcome the government’s recognition of how a functioning and efficient planning system can contribute to the UK’s growth by creating not just new homes, but also the infrastructure that supports great places,’ she added. Leech explained that a lack of dynamism among local authorities on Local Plans should be addressed by the government being able to intervene. ‘Local Plans are fundamental to growth, and we are firm believers in a plan led system. There are still areas, however, without a Local Plan in place, and so we are pleased to see that government is taking steps to ensure that plans are delivered in a timely fashion,’ she said. ‘A number of recalcitrant local authorities have been dragging their feet and producing bloated local plans that are overly long and simply… Continue reading →

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