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Govt drive to boost housing investment

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The government has altered planning laws in a bid to boost house building and investment across the country.

The Fixing the Foundations report was released after the Budget and outlines how developers will be allowed to build on brownfield sites without any planning permissions.

The government believes this will reduce delays for house builders and make building on brownfield land more attractive.

In another move which bypasses local councils, homeowners in London will be able to add an extension onto their property without asking for council permission.

The industry response was generally positive with Jonathan Bower, partner in law firm Bond Dickinson, saying that there is still room for further progress.

“The Chancellor’s plans set out in “Fixing the Foundations” to reform the planning system will be welcomed by house builders and potential buyers alike,” he said. “Local Authorities, however, will view the changes less favourably as they may now be forced to see homes built in their area even if opposed to development.

“One element which was mooted as being subject to further reforms was the extension of the office to residential permitted development rights but the policy paper is silent.  This will result in continued uncertainty for the residential industry and funders unless urgently clarified.

“While the plans set out today are a step in the right direction for house building, we shouldn’t lose sight of the chronic issue we have in the UK with housing and speed of delivery.”

Dr Colin Brown, director of engineering at the Institution for Mechanical Engineers, added: “While today’s announcement on planning reform shows that the Government is taking action on the UK housing crisis, it needs to be far more radical in its thinking if it wants to deliver an effective solution.

“We need a minimum of 250,000 houses to be built each year to keep up with the nation’s growing population. At no point over the last two decades has the figure exceeded 180,000, therefore, it is imperative this number is increased so we can meet demand.”

Business secretary Sajid Javid said: “Too many homeowners are frustrated by red tape that stops them extending their homes to accommodate growing families. It’s a particular problem in our crowded capital city. So today I can announce that the government will be working with the Mayor of London to make life easier for people who want a little extra space.

“We’re going to remove the need for need for Londoners to seek planning permission for upwards extensions up to the height of an adjoining building, provided your neighbours don’t object. It’s a simple step that, at a stroke, will take layers of bureaucracy and cost out of the planning system.”

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