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“Most radical planning reforms since WW2” announced by Boris Johnson

by on July 2, 2020

New planning rules have been announced by the Prime Minister, who said on Tuesday that he wanted the UK to “build, build, build” during the recovery from COVID-19, boosting the economy and the construction industry. The “radical” regulation changes will look to ease restrictions and grant increased liberties to change the use of properties and land without planning permission and allows residential homes to be constructed from unoccupied properties, such as vacant shops.

Proposed to come into effect across England by September, the changes will mean multiple building projects will be able to go ahead without the need for planning permission helping to create or expand spaces for use as homes. This includes an increase in the types of commercial properties which can be changed into residential dwellings, and being able to demolish empty and unneeded buildings, if they are being replaced by residential dwellings. Additionally, upward extensions of properties, with prior neighbour approval, will be able to go ahead via a fast-tracked process.

Furthermore, the Use Classes Order is to be remodelled to allow additional forms of commercial sites to be repurposed, for example retail locations will be able to be permanently converted for alternative business usage, such as office space, without the need for a planning permission or local planning authority (LPA) consent. However, essential community businesses and services will be excluded, such as libraries or village shops.

All of these changes are intended to not just benefit the economy and high street, but to also have a positive environmental impact, as green spaces aren’t replaced by buildings, and brownfield sites will be utilised to provide high quality homes that meet Government regulations.

Boris Johnson also announced that in the lead up to the Spending Review, a cross-government strategy will be put in place, analysing the use of government owned land so it can be utilized as effectively as possible, for example to benefit the environment or to build much needed homes.

The Government has also pledged a range of actions to assist with the new home building measures.

These include the introduction of an affordable homes programme, providing up to 180,000 homes to buy or rent in the coming eight years, which will cost £12bn. The scheme is set to benefit families with a ‘First Homes’ trial, where first time buyers will always be able to purchase homes from a 1,500-housing development for a 30% discount.

Additionally, in order to financially support smaller developers with the building of around 7,200 homes in new housing developments, the Home Builder’s Fund will receive an extra £450m.

Furthermore, funds to build up to 24,000 new homes will benefit the areas of West Yorkshire, Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Sheffield City Region, the West Midlands and North of Tyne and Tees Valley, with £400m from the Brownfield Land Fund being apportioned.

The Government also announced a planning Policy Paper for July, which will look into modernising the planning system, and a Local Recovery White Paper for later in the year, which will outline the government’s plans to work with localities to help boost the economy, introduce their National Infrastructure Plan and establish wider de-regulatory improvements.

  1. This post sounds like government spin. The move is solely designed to benefit Tory party donors and make it easier for them to build slum housing.

  2. Wendy Nunn permalink

    Thought should be given to CIL and Stamp Duty holiday. Both create problems for builders and the housing market generally.

  3. Nikki permalink

    Im struggling to find information on the proposed changes to the Use Class Order. Anyone?

  4. Planning law does need to be reviewed but blanket changes without thought and leaving gaping holes for some to take advantage of and create cheap and awful “dwellings” is a dangerous step. Seems a little knee jerk in the reaction.

  5. The Devil will be in the detail, as always, but, so long as agricultural land remains protected, these changes don’t look all bad. The huge variance between planning departments, in competence and attitude to development, has been unacceptable and a serious drag on local economies for a long time, and circumventing it by extending PD in some areas is a good idea. Wrt to the assistance to buy – that’s unreasonable and corrupt. The 30% will end up in the back pockets of house builders. We need a change of culture back to mass housing built by (competent) local Govt, and long-term renting the norm.

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