Osborne to shake up housebuilding with planning reforms


Chancellor George Osborne will today unveil a raft of new measures designed to boost housebuilding by reforming the planning system.

Under the new proposals, automatic planning permission would be granted on many brownfield sites in England, while major housing projects could be fast-tracked, and rules on extensions in London relaxed.

The reforms would also see planning powers devolved to mayors in London and Manchester, while enhanced compulsory purchase powers will allow more brownfield land to be made available for development.

There would also be new sanctions for councils that do not deal with planning applications quickly enough, and the Government would be able to intervene in councils’ local development plans.

The plans, which will need approval from parliament, build on promises in the Conservative manifesto to better utilise brownfield sites, which have previously been developed, but are now vacant or derelict.

During the election campaign the Tories promised to build 275,000 affordable homes during this parliament, while also creating a brownfield fund to unlock homes on brownfield land for additional housing.

They also want to ensure that 90 per cent of suitable brownfield sites have planning permission for housing by 2020.

The British Property Federation has hailed the reforms as “game-changing”, but says the plans will need better funding for local authority planning departments to be effective.

The BPF also says the Government is too focused on owner-occupied housing, and should provide more purpose-built rental accommodation.

Chief executive Melanie Leech says: “We warmly welcome the Government’s recognition of how a functioning and efficient planning system can contribute to the UK’s growth by creating not just new homes, but also the infrastructure that supports great places.”