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  • TP Editorial Team

‘Build, Build, Build’ says Boris

Boris Johnson has announced the ‘most radical’ reforms of the planning system since the end of the Second World War, pledging to ‘build a more beautiful Britain’ and to ‘build back better, build back greener, build back faster’.  

Johnson said that the government will launch a planning Policy Paper in July setting out its plan for a ‘comprehensive’ reform of England’s planning system ‘to introduce a new approach that works better for our modern economy and society’. The government will also introduce a local recovery Planning White Paper ‘soon’ to include details of how the UK government will launch its National Infrastructure Plan and legislate for wider de-regulatory planning reforms.

Many of the proposals highlighted in Boris’s speech to relax planning controls are expected to be in force as soon as September 2020. These include:

  • Measures to regenerate Town Centres by giving greater freedom for buildings to change use without the need for planning permission under reforms to the regulations. The relaxation of planning controls will include the conversion of retail buildings into housing, cafes or offices. However, pubs, libraries, village shops and other ‘essential’ types of uses will not be covered by these flexibilities.

  • A wider range of commercial buildings will be allowed to change to residential use without the need for a planning application.

  • Planning permission to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings will no longer be required if they are rebuilt as homes.

  • Property owners will be able to build additional space above their properties via a fast track approval process, subject to neighbour consultation with full details to be announced.  So far relaxations have already been introduced to commence in August, for two-storey extensions upwards on detached blocks of flats.

A further package of measures to support house building in England includes:

  • A £12bn affordable homes programme that will support up to 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next 8 years, first announced in the March Budget.

  • A 1,500 unit pilot of ‘First Homes’ - houses that will be sold to first time buyers at a 30% discount, which will remain in perpetuity.  Details of how the scheme will operate were published in February by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

  • The allocation of funds from the £400m Brownfield Land Fund to the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region, Sheffield City Region, and North of Tyne and Tees Valley to support around 24,000 homes.  The fund was first announced in the March Budget.

  • An additional £450m for the Home Builders Fund to help smaller developers access finance for new housing developments, expected to support delivery of around 7,200 new homes.  The fund was first launched in 2016 to help smaller developers access finance for new housing schemes.

Other measures outlined in the Prime Minister’s speech included a review of land owned by the public sector to see how it can be released for house building as well as improving the environment, contributing to net zero goals and ‘injecting growth opportunities into communities across the country’. Boris also highlighted investment in infrastructure projects (such as road, rail, energy, flood defences and waste), and accelerating investment in Town Centres through the Towns Fund.

Treasurer, Mr Sunak, will set out plans for a stimulus for the economy on 8 July 2020.

Watch this space for more details – or contact us to find out more!

(Photo © Nick Kane​)

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