Osborne announces planning changes in bid to boost housebuilding

Posted 10 July 2015 by Stephen Maunder

The chancellor has today announced an overhaul of planning laws in a bid to boost the number of new homes being built in the UK.

Under the new measures, planning permission would be automatically granted on suitable disused industrial land, and derelict brownfield plots can be seized for development by housebuilders, limiting frustrating delays in the process.

The measures are part of the chancellor's Fixing the Foundations package, further details of which will be released later today by business secretary Sajid Javid.

Announcing the reforms, George Osborne said: "Britain has been incapable of building enough homes.The reforms we made to the planning system in the last parliament have started to improve the situation: planning permissions and housing starts are at a seven-year high. 

"But we need to go further and I am not prepared to stand by when people who want to get on the housing ladder can't do so. We'll keep on protecting the green belt, but these latest planning reforms are a vital part of a comprehensive plan to confront the challenge of our lifetime and raise productivity and living standards."

Planning powers will be devolved to mayors in London and Manchester, and permission to build upward of adjoining buildings will no longer be needed in London. The governent will also be able to draw up plans to meet local housing demand if councils fail to produce their own, and will impose penalties on authorities who fail to make their planning decisions on time. 

Ahead of the full announcement later today, Mr Javid said: "This plan lays the foundations for a stronger future. Every part of government will be involved. Under-supply of housing pushes up house prices in many areas and means millions of people can't live and work where they want to, or even own their own home. We are absolutely determined to see more planning permissions granted and more houses built."

The devil will be in the detail

Steve Sanham, development director at London housebuilder HUB, said: “This is a very positive announcement by the chancellor, but as with previous announcements about simplifying the planning system, which have only had limited impact, the devil will be in the detail.

“Automatic consent will terrify the only recently empowered localism lobby, and the success of such sweeping changes will be the balancing of those important parts of the localism agenda such as the quality, and meeting local need, with the wider socioeconomic benefits of quicker and simpler development.”

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, welcomed the reforms. He said: "The lack of available developable land and delays in - and cost of - the planning system are the biggest barrier to the country building the homes it needs. If the industry is to increase supply closer to the level needed we need more land to come through the system more quickly."

What do you think? Will the reforms really get Britain building a suitable number of new homes? Tweet us @What_House


Click here to see your activities