Boris Johnson has confirmed details of an overhaul to planning permission requirements and restrictions, which will give housing developers and homeowners alike more direct control over their properties.
Despite facing accusations of having unnecessarily delayed essential reforms until now, the Prime Minister firmly believes the new planning system will boost affordable home availability across the UK.
“We’ve got fantastic builders that do a great job but for some reason or other, and planning has a lot to do with it, it takes far too long to build a home in this country,” he said.
However, some have warned that the alterations to existing policy could lead to a dangerous loss of control at a local council level, while at the same time leading to an influx of “bad-quality housing” on the market.
The statement from the government suggests that the new rules will reduce both the amount of time it takes to complete housing development projects and the number of planning applications that are declined. The result of which, according to the Prime Minister, being greater affordable housing availability and the opportunity for more first-time buyers to get on the property ladder.
Reduced Local Influence
One of the main sticking points for critics of the new scheme is the way in which it will limit local influence, where planned property developments are concerned. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed that those in the locality of a planned development would still be given a “meaningful say” at an early juncture but would not be able to block housing development schemes at a later date.
Mr Johnson said that the removal of red tape would make it much easier for developers to complete projects, resulting in far more affordable housing becoming available across the UK.
By contrast, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer argued that this reduction of local influence could prove harmful for the housing market, while highlighting that the new rules make no direct mention of the need for affordable housing.
“This is a developers’ charter, frankly, taking councils and communities out of it,” he warned.
“And on affordable housing, which is the critical issue, it says nothing. In fact it removes the initiatives that were there for affordable housing.”
His sentiments were shared by the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Alan Jones, who stated: “While there’s no doubt the planning system needs reform, these shameful proposals do almost nothing to guarantee the delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes.”
Eased Planning Permission Requirements
The government also recently confirmed a series of new planning measures, which from September will enable homeowners to conduct certain home improvements and alterations without the need for planning permission.
Developers will also be permitted to convert various different types of commercial premises and business properties into homes, though critics argue that such conversions often result in cramped, low-quality residences that are subsequently sold or let out at disproportionately high prices.