Government’s major planning shake-up to build homes faster

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government
Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government

Plans for a radical shake-up of a “complex and outdated planning system” in the UK are due to be announced this week, in a bid to speed up the building of new homes.

UK Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has proposed a complete overhaul of a system that has been in place since just after the Second World War, and one he said has failed to keep up with the needs of the country.

All land will be designated as areas earmarked for either ‘growth’, ‘for renewal’ or ‘for protection’. ‘Growth’ areas will have automatic planning permission for development, enabling builders to get on with it, without having to wait for council approval.

The Housing Secretary is expected to publish details of his planning reforms this week. However, he set out some of the key measures in an article in The Sunday Telegraph on 2 August.

In the article, he said: “This week I am bringing forward radical and necessary reforms to our planning system to get Britain building and drive our economic recovery. We are introducing a simpler, faster, people-focused system to deliver the homes and places we need.

“Under the new process, through democratic local agreement, land will be designated in one of three categories: for growth, for renewal or for protection.

“Land designated for growth will empower development – new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will be allowed automatically. People can get going.

“Renewal areas will enable much quicker development with a ‘permission in principle’ approach to balance speed, while ensuring appropriate checks are carried out.

“And protected land will be just that – our green belt, areas of outstanding natural beauty and rich heritage – will be protected as the places, views and landscapes we cherish most and passed on to the next generation as set out in our manifesto.

“Our reforms seek a more diverse and competitive housing industry, in which smaller builders can thrive alongside the big players, and where planning permissions are turned into homes faster than they are today.”

In response to reports of the government’s proposals to reform the planning system, Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “The Prime Minister has said we need to ‘build, build, build’ our way to recovery and a flexible and responsive planning system is essential to deliver this aim. Local small builders have an important role to play in delivering the high quality homes the country needs, but 42% of small builders have difficulty engaging with the planning system.

“New measures that make the planning system quicker and more affordable are welcome, but it is vital that high standards in design and build are not compromised as a result, and that any overhaul doesn’t in fact add further delays.”