Just as the dust has settled on the NPPF debate, the government yesterday announced more planning reforms – apparently to shake-up the housing market by “unblocking” the planning system.
These proposals have already been well-aired in the media – see this BBC report for one summary.
Headline proposals include:
· Acceptance of this summer’s Montague report promoting a build to rent sector.
· 3 year relaxation of planning rules on extending homes and business premises (there’ll be a 1 month consultation on this proposal).
· Householders to be able to build 8 m or 6m long extensions (depending on whether the house is detached or not) without planning permission (it's currently 3m).
· Businesses to be able to extend shops by 100 sq metres and industrial units by 200 sq metres.
· Removing requirements for developers to include affordable housing - if they prove they make a site "commercially unviable".
· Encouragement for councils to reconsider the use and/or reclassification of previously developed land lying within the Green Belt.
· Legislation to allow applications to be decided by the Planning Inspectorate if the local authority has consistently poor performance in the speed or quality of its decisions.
· A new "major infrastructure fast-track" for big projects.
· Promoting office to residential conversions.
· A government guarantee of up to £40 billion for major infrastructure projects and up to £10 billion for new homes
The proposals have been met with a muted response – either because it's felt they'll do little to boost growth (with some saying it’s lack of demand not red tape causing the problem), or because it's felt they don’t go far enough (the new homes industry, for example, wanted a 3 year holiday from all obligations to provide affordable homes).
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said that taken together the measures will provide a shot in the arm for house building but they will only solve housing issues if accompanied by a significant package of other measures.
“House builders are not on strike; they are simply not building because there are few people in a position to buy, or seeking to move. We are therefore pleased to see support to access home ownership and measures to encourage renting are also seen as important parts of this package. Simply building homes for non-existent buyers has been tried before, in Spain and Ireland, with disastrous consequences".
She added the Montague Review will only be a success if local authorities get behind it.
There’s more debate on the Guardian website.
I’ll post a link to the consultation(s) when they become available.