At the end of June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson shared plans to build more new homes and overhaul the planning system. His pledge was a simple one – to ‘build, build, build’.
The aim is to make it easier to build homes in areas where people want to live. This requires radical changes to the country’s planning system, the likes of which haven’t been since the Second World War. Here’s more about the plans…
Supporting home building across the country
A raft of new measures have been announced, to support the building of new homes across the country, after the pandemic. The first being a new £12bn affordable home programme. Over the next eight years, up to 180,000 new affordable homes will be developed, for ownership and rent. Within this programme will be a pilot of ‘First Homes’. This is a scheme which will see properties sold to first-time buyers at a 30% discount. The discount will remain in perpetuity, meaning generations of families will be able to access affordable homes in years to come. The pilot of this scheme will take shape with the initial creation of 1,500 units.
Specific funds to support home building
At the same time the Prime Minister shared his plans for building new homes, it was confirmed regions across the country had been allocated £400m in funds from the Brownfield Land Fund. These regions included, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Sheffield City Region, Liverpool City Region and North of Tyne and Tees Valley. The shared funds have been allocated to support the development of around 24,000 homes, through the repurposing of brownfield sites across these areas.
The government also pledged a £405m boost to the Home Builders Fund. This gives smaller developers access to finance for new housing developments. This extra cash is estimated to support the building of approximately 7,200 homes.
Greater freedom in town centres
To kickstart the construction industry and rebuilding, new regulations will reduce the restrictions on land and buildings within town centres. Any requested change of use will be able to be done without planning permission. The greater freedom will allow the quicker, and hopefully increased regeneration of empty, redundant buildings to create new homes. Existing commercial properties, which includes any shops recently vacated, can be converted more easily into residential homes.
Use Classes Order
A reform of the Use of Classes Order will bring complete flexibility to the repurposing of commercial premises. Should a building which was once used as a shop wish to be used as an office or coffee shop, there would be no requirement for a planning application or approval from the local authority. Likewise, steps are being taken to make it easier for a wider range of commercial buildings to be changed to residential use, without the need for a planning application. If vacant and redundant buildings (both residential and commercial) are to be demolished and rebuilt as new homes; builders will no longer need a normal planning application.
All starting by September 2020
The proposed changes are scheduled to come into effect by September. These changes to the law will still see developers needing to adhere to high standards and regulations. However, there will be a removal of the unnecessary red tape that exists today around brownfield development. These steps will bring two benefits. The first being to support a revival of the high street, by allowing empty commercial units to be quickly repurposed. And the second, to reduce the pressure and need to build on greenfield land.
Planning reforms due
Also announced, was the plan for a comprehensive reform of England’s planning system. The seventy-year old system is seen as out of date and out of tune with our modern economy and society. July will see the government launch a planning Policy Paper setting out its plans for the changes.
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