Major shakeup to planning system

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced major changes to England’s planning system that aim to speed up the construction of new homes. The “once in a generation” proposals will streamline the process and cut red tape.

What are the changes?

The main change will see land being divided into three zones: ‘growth’ zones, ‘renewal’ zones and ‘protection’ zones (such as green belt land). Planning permission for new homes constructed in growth zones will be automatically granted (councils will not be able to veto), while proposals for developments in renewal zones will be given ‘permission in principle’ subject to basic checks.

The proposals are expected to modernise the currently “outdated” planning system, where disputes often occur and cause long delays. Property construction should be much quicker as a result.

The proposals also align with the government’s 2050 zero-carbon sustainability target, which includes ensuring all new homes are carbon-neutral by 2050. In addition, the Housing Secretary confirmed that a ‘first homes scheme’ would provide newly built homes at a 30% discount for key workers, local residents and first-time buyers.

Proposals met with criticism

A number of bodies and organisations within the housebuilding sector have expressed concerns about the plans. The President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) described the proposals as “shameful” and said they could “lead to the next generation of slum housing.” RIBA fears the proposals have not been fully thought out and this, along with the extension of permitted development rights allowing developers to convert commercial and retail buildings into housing, could lead to a rise in sub-standard housing for maximum profit.

The consultation will close on 29 October 2020.

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