England: Brownfield developments to win automatic planning permission
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced new plans to automatically grant planning permission for housing on many brownfield sites.
The proposals, which have yet to win the approval of the House of Commons, would see planning permission automatically granted on all “suitable” brownfield sites in order to boost house-building in England.
It is also proposed that ministers should have powers to seize disused land and fast-track major housing projects.
Mr Osborne said the reforms were necessary because “Britain has been incapable of building enough homes”.
The announcement has been welcomed by the Home Builders Federation (HBF).
Stewart Baseley, HBF executive chairman, said: “The industry welcomes the changes announced by government today and looks forward to working with them to develop the detail.
“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.
“Speeding up the rate at which planning applications on previously developed land are processed; and closing the gap between central government ambition and local authority performance is key.
“In recent years house building rates have been lower than for many decades creating an acute shortage of decent housing. Increasing build rates will provide people with decent housing and boost the economy.”
However, the move comes alongside a commitment to 1 per cent annual rent reductions in the social rented sector, which is said will negatively affect affordable housebuilding.
Scottish Housing News yesterday reported that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) believes the move will “directly reduce social landlords’ rental income, and therefore their financing for, and returns to, investment in new housebuilding”.