The Government Push to Reform Planning Laws.

by Mark Johnston

                    The Government Push to Reform Planning Laws.

A shortage of homes has made it impossible for many to get on to the housing ladder and has seen rents, especially in major cities rise to historic and unaffordable.

The new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is now in place and local plans are being revised. A government spokesman recently stated that “the NPPF better supports growth, helping create the homes and jobs that the country needs and puts unprecedented power in to the hands of communities, whilst protecting the environment”.

However, the chancellor has recently suggested that “we have to up the tempo of development and activity in this country. There is clearly room for improvement in the speed of the planning process”.

Therefore recently promises have been made by the government for more changes in planning rules, they state that the economy recovery depends on stimulating development.

George Osborne, the chancellor, said that the old system “led to unnecessary delays” and he also promised to make it harder for residents to object to new developments.

A government spokesman added “we are not talking about ripping up the planning laws. But we are talking about making the decisions more quickly”.

Basically Chancellor George Osborne is understood to be looking at making it easier for councils to relax protections over green belt land in order to encourage business growth and boost the economy.

England’s green belt covers over 6,000 square miles of countryside around towns and cities to prevent urban sprawl.

Under the new plans being considered councils would no longer be required to hold a public inquiry if green belt land loses its protected status.

These new plans could potentially see 300,000 new homes built in a year which would ease demand, stimulate the economy and generate jobs.

The National Trust suggested that the latest changes would create turmoil and added “what is needed more than anything now is stability”.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the campaign to protect ruralEngland, states that “the treasury does not understand planning and the interventions of Treasury ministers always end in tears”.

Many rural campaigners have criticised the government for returning to the issue of planning so soon after drawing up the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

It is worth pointing out at this point that in the spring this year the government unveiled controversial planning reforms and around 2,000 new building projects have already been approved every month since the unveiling.

Robert Davis, research director for Glenigan, the construction market analysis, said “our independent primary research shows that since the changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the proportion of projects gaining planning permission has risen”.

Campaigners however believe that the problem is not with the planning system, but with the slow speed at which builders are converting approvals in to new homes.

Analysis by the local government association showed that there are currently 400,000 plots acrossEnglandandWaleswhich had planning permission for work to start. Of the plots, actual building work had only started at half the plots.

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