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Government Announces Planning Reforms

The Government has announced the biggest overhaul of planning reforms in decades, vowing to protect green spaces and make it easier to build on brownfield sites.

The intention is to slash the bureaucratic delays that come from local politicians and local authorities. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that it takes seven years to agree to the planning and then five years to begin construction. The Government’s plans are designed to speed this up drastically.

However, with the removal of regulation comes concern about the potential new developments. In particular, the proposition to suspend Section 106, which raises concerns about the number of affordable homes that will be built under this scheme.

Section 106 is responsible for over half of social housing constructions, as it stipulates that private construction companies must build a minimum percentage of affordable housing.

The Government hopes that this plan will incentivise high-quality architecture. However, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) said there was “every chance they could also lead to the creation of the next generation of slum housing”.

The Minister for Housing responded that: “Our proposals will introduce a simpler levy that ensures developers deliver at least as much – if not more – affordable housing.”

Prime Minister Boris Johson outlined the Government’s proposals in a White Paper on Thursday. The plan aims to speed up development on land designated “for renewal”, i.e. brownfield sites.  A ‘permission in principle’ approach will uphold checks and increase the speed of work.

Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Developments will only receive fast tracking if they meet the White Paper’s stipulations and locally designed codes.

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