Going up… new planning rules in the pipeline

Secretary of State Robert Jenrick has set out the Government’s ambitions for a new approach to housebuilding

In future, some residential blocks could be increased in height by two storeys as part of government plans to increase the density of housing in urban areas and provide more homes in towns and cities.  

In the wake of Wednesday’s Budget, Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick has announced a number of planning reforms to encourage local authorities to start a new wave of house building across the country. Councils are being urged to:

  • encourage housing-led regeneration of high streets,
  • approve building upwards on already-developed land and railway stations,
  • densify existing residential areas and
  • make the most of under-utilised brownfield sites.

To get the ball rolling, the Chancellor has pledged an additional £10.9 bn of funding to help communities regenerate brownfield land, invest in new infrastructure and provide more homes for local people.

From that new funding package, £400m will be put towards using brownfield land more productively. A national brownfield map will be published later this year and there will be a call to allow building above stations to make the most of existing transport hubs.

The formula for calculating Local Housing Need will also be revised to encourage building in and around urban areas, gearing up for delivery of the Government’s promised 300,000 new homes a year.  New permitted development rights will be introduced this summer to encourage building upwards and increasing densities – including the right to extend residential blocks by up to two storeys – and to deliver new and bigger homes.

There has been widespread criticism of permitted development rights that have allowed commercial buildings to be converted into poor quality residential units without having to go through the normal planning process. So the Government will also be consulting on a new permitted development right to allow vacant commercial buildings, industrial buildings and residential blocks to be demolished and replaced with well-designed new residential units that meet natural light standards. 

The key to all this will be speeding up the planning system. The best of intentions will have no impact on new home delivery if housing schemes are stalled at planning stage and take years to get out of the ground. So later this Spring, the Government will publish a Planning White Paper setting out proposals to modernise the system, accelerate planning decisions and make it easier for communities to engage and play a role in the development decisions that affect them.