• Govt hopes to weaken planning legislation further still

    6th September 2012 | News | Claire
  • These plans are simply likely to lead to large and ugly extensions that have negative implications on neighbours and on the surrounding area.

    When will ministers grasp that it is the banks lending money that is the issue, not the planning system.

    There are thousands of houses already approved, but are not being built because developers don’t think they will sell them. 

    Why don’t they think they will sell them?

    Because people aren’t buying because they can’t get mortgages.

    Reducing the requirement for building affordable houses will simply make the situation worse won’t it? 

    Don’t we need first time buyers to keep the housing market alive?

    The story below is published today on the BBC website………………………..

    The government wants to get planning officers “off people’s backs” with a relaxation of current rules in England.

    For a limited period, people will be allowed to build larger extensions on houses – up to 8m long for detached homes and 6m for others.

    Rules on shops and offices expanding and on developments having to include affordable housing will be relaxed as ministers seek to boost the economy.

    But Labour says the government is “kidding themselves”.

    The proposals, it says, are “not up to the scale of the challenge” and do not address the real problem of a “lack of confidence and demand in the economy”.

    And the Local Government Association says it is a “myth” that the planning system was stopping house-building.

    It released figures which show a backlog of 400,000 prospective homes which have planning permission but have not yet been built. It says these “conclusively prove” the planning system is not holding back development.

    Affordable homes
    The coalition, which has undergone a reshuffle this week, is looking for ways to boost the economy and end the ongoing recession.

    Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg have announced that 16,500 first-time buyers are to receive help getting on the housing ladder under an extension of the FirstBuy scheme. Under this, would-be homeowners without a deposit are given an equity loan of up to 20% of the purchase price.

    Government proposals on housing-building

    For a set time planning rules on extending homes and business premises will be relaxed.

    – All householders will be able to build 6m long extensions without planning permission (it’s currently 3m)
    – Removing requirements for developers to include affordable housing – if they prove they make a site “commercially unviable”.
    – An extra £280m for the FirstBuy scheme to help would-be homeowners with a deposit.
    – A new bill to provide £40bn in government guarantees to underwrite major infrastructure projects and £10bn to underwrite the construction of new homes.
    – Funding of £300m to provide 15,000 affordable homes and bring 5,000 empty homes back into use.
    – A new “major infrastructure fast-track” for big projects.
    – Putting poorly performing council planning departments into “special measures” and allowing developers to bypass them if they fail to improve.
    – Just a few months ago the government rewrote the entire planning framework for England, after fierce initial resistance from countryside campaigners.

    Now ministers want further changes to planning in England in an attempt to boost house-building and revive the economy.

    The announcements come as the economy continues to languish, with the recession now having lasted more than nine months. The construction sector has performed particularly badly.

    Mr Cameron said: “This government means business in delivering plans to help people build new homes and kick-start the economy.

    “We’re determined to cut through the bureaucracy that holds us back. That starts with getting the planners off our backs, getting behind the businesses that have the ambition to expand and meeting the aspirations of families that want to buy or improve a home.”

    He told ITV’s Daybreak developers were being held back by the “many obligations” on them to build affordable housing.

    Under the government’s plans, if developers can prove these requirements make a site commercially unviable, the conditions will be removed.

    Ministers ‘kidding themselves’
    Homeowners and businesses will, for a limited time, be able to build much bigger extensions without planning permission than they can at present.

    The new Permitted Development Rights will make it easier to install conservatories and loft extensions without going through weeks of planning bureaucracy, the prime minister promised.

    Full planning permission – required for extensions of more than three or four metres from the rear wall of any home – will only now be needed for those reaching beyond 8m for detached homes and 6m for others.

    Businesses will be able to expand shops by 100 square metres and industrial units by 200 square metres.

    There will also be £300m of additional funding to provide up to 15,000 affordable homes and bring 5,000 empty homes back into use.

    Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Nick Clegg said the government was putting forward a “big set of measures” to boost house-building but accepted some of the proposals would be controversial.

    “We have a real crisis. We’re not employing enough people in the construction sector. The construction sector has had a really hard time of it.

    “We’re not building enough homes. We’re not building enough affordable homes. We’ve got to take some of these difficult decisions – yes, even with some controversy around them – to get Britain building.”

    For Labour, Rachel Reeves said: “With our economy in a double-dip recession and a serious housing crisis, the Government are kidding themselves if they think these announcements are up to the scale of the challenge.

    “The fundamental problem is not the planning system or Section 106 agreements for much needed affordable housing, it is the lack of confidence and demand in the economy, slashed public investment and the Government’s failing economic plan.”

    The National Housing Federation, which represents England’s housing associations, welcomed the package of measures as “a major step forward” with “the potential to transform the housing market”.

    “It will provide homes for some of the millions of families on waiting lists, create jobs and give the UK economy a shot in the arm with a speed and effectiveness few industries can match,” the group said.

    Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls will launch an attack on the coalition’s economic record and set out what they see as the start for a fundamental rethink about how a future Labour government would approach the economy.

    As big a shift in thinking is needed now, Mr Miliband will say, as happened after the second world war and in the late 1970s.