27th July 2015
New home building to be boosted by Chancellor’s proposed changes to UK planning rules
Streets Ahead has welcomed the wide ranging changes to the UK planning system to boost new home building announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s first budget following the general election.
Central to Mr Osborne’s strategy – which still needs to be approved by MPs – is a radical plan to automatically grant planning permission to suitable brownfield sites under a so-called zonal system. In addition, enhanced compulsory purchase powers will allow more brownfield land to be made available for development.
Developers in London will also soon be able to extend buildings to the height of neighbouring properties without applying for planning, with councils that do not deal quickly with planning applications facing sanctions by central government.
Describing it as ‘nothing short of a revolution’ in planning Kevin Ellis, New Homes Director at Streets Ahead, commented: “These changes will be particularly welcome in London, where the accelerating population is becoming a major issue.
“In the first quarter of 2015, just over 5,000 local homes were completed – whereas we actually needed somewhere in the region of 14,000. And where will you find a rich seam of brownfield sites? London and the South East.”
Kevin said Britain needs new homes, and that the existing laws are stifling progress. Official figures show new house building fell by 5.8% in May, the steepest decline in nearly four years.
It’s hoped the planning changes will go some way to meeting the massive demand for new homes (the 141,000 built last year were a fraction of what was needed nationally). It will also help boost the businesses of the agents and developers and provide a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for the housing industry
However, Kevin urges a note of caution: “We need to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to support any new developments, and encourage the building of a diverse product mix to enable people to grow in these communities. The last thing anyone wants is a series of ‘ghost towns’ bereft of diversity or local facilities.”