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Government agrees automatic planning permission for new homes

The Government announced a ‘once in a generation’ set of changes to planning permission rules in the UK this week. New homes, shops and hospitals are set to have the red tape cut after Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced new rules to planning following the PM's £5bn pledge to "Build, build, build" as part of the government's economic fight against the pandemic.

Described as "Permission in principle", which will be given to developments on land allocated for renewal to speed-up the building process whilst creating thousands of new jobs.

The new rules will fall under three categories:

Land for growth - allowing new homes and GP surgeries to be built automatically, providing the local council has ruled there is a need for it.

Renewal areas - mainly existing urban plots, will see their plans fast-tracked with "permission in principle" rules enabling many high streets to regenerate and allow the development of new housing.

Protected land - green belt areas and areas of national beauty will be protected from new development.

Mr Jenrick wrote in The Sunday Telegraph, saying: "Our country's outdated and cumbersome planning system has contributed to a generational divide between those who own property and those who don't. Half as many 16 to 34-year-olds own their own homes, compared to those aged between 35 and 64."

"While house prices have soared since the Millennium, with England seeing an increase at one of the fastest rates in Europe, our complex and slow planning system has been a barrier to building homes which are affordable, where families want to raise children and build their lives.

He added: "It's resulted in delays to vital infrastructure projects that come with new housing. Communities are missing out on new hospitals, new schools and improved roads, and restrictions have left derelict buildings as eyesores and empty shops on our high streets, instead of helping them to adapt and evolve."

'Build, build, build'

In June, Boris Johnson vowed to "build, build, build" to help the British economy bounce back from Covid-19, promising a £5bn package to build new homes and infrastructure.

The PM promised the "most radical reforms" of the planning system since World War Two. The UK's planning system was effectively established in 1947, two years after the end of the war, with the Town and Country Planning Act.

Mr Jenrick continued: "Nine in 10 planning applications are approved by councils, while more than a million homes given planning permission in the last decade have not yet been built.

"We all want great communities. The planning system needs to be able to ensure developments are of a high standard, are built in the right places, include affordable homes, and are supported by infrastructure that provides enough schools, promotes greener and more active travel, and tackles climate change.

"Only last week the government's own independent report warned of the worse quality of homes not delivered through the planning system.

"We urge the government to heed these warnings and not further sideline the planning process. We stand ready to work with government to ensure any reforms improve the system."

Critics including the RIBA, the Local Government Association, and the charity Shelter have already said that the move would lead to slum-quality new houses being built in areas that will lack adequate public services and would ‘lessen democratic accountability’.

RIBA President Alan Jones said deregulation would not deliver new homes and called for the government to ‘urgently reconsider’.

He said: ’For too long, England’s housing market has failed to meet public demand while generating enormous returns for shareholders and executives of the large housebuilders.

’We urgently need a broad mix of affordable, age-friendly and sustainable housing – but it looks as though this so-called “planning revolution” will deliver the opposite.

However, the new planning reforms have been praised for its pledges to help more people carry out self-build projects. that could be game-changing for the self-build industry.

The Planning for the Future white paper, published on Thursday 6 August, is now open for consultation until 29 October and proposes major reforms to the planning permission system in England. It has been described by experts as the most ambitious planning reforms since the Town and Country Planning Act was founded in 1947.

To simplify and assist local planning authorities, a form of ‘zone planning’ will be introduced which will classify land for either growth, renewal, or protection. Land in growth areas will benefit from automatic permission, while land in urban renewal areas will be granted ‘permission in principle’.



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