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Agents cautiously welcome U-turn on house building planning rules

Government's decision to shift the building focus to urban areas rather than rural ones is "important new step".

Nigel Lewis

house building

Estate agents have given a cautious welcome to the Government’s decision to revise its controversial planning reforms and refocus house   building in urban areas.

The decision, which has been framed as ‘new measures’ by the housing ministry will see building effort refocussed on urban areas rather than in rural ones, which had risked a backlash among Conservative MPs with country constituencies.

Following fury among rural voters that the Government’s initial planning algorithm would ‘concrete over’ significant swathes of countrywide, the system has now been updated.

This will “help councils to enable the delivery of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, while prioritising brownfield sites and urban areas”, a housing ministry statement says.

Levelling up

But the government is still pursuing its ‘levelling-up’ agenda and says it will revise its ‘80/20 rule’ which guides how much funding is available to local areas to achieve more house building.

“This will establish a new principle to ensure funding is not just concentrated in London and the South East,” it says.

Propertymark’s new Chief Policy Adviser, Mark Hayward, says the decision is ‘an important new step’ but remains concerned about the government’s ability to deliver its 300,000 a year house building target.

“In our Housing 2025 report we concluded that unless more drastic measures are taken to boost housebuilding, the affordability crisis will continue and worsen, leading many to become eternal renters.

“The challenges presented by dwindling property supply are still acute and we need the government to support housebuilding long-term in order to tackle them and help build a future where everyone has the opportunity to own or rent a decent home.”

December 17, 2020

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