Osborne seeks change in planning laws

British Chancellor George Osborne

In an attempt to boost house-building, under government plans to give automatic planning permission to be granted on many brownfield sites in England.

British Chancellor George Osborne
British Chancellor George Osborne

Ministers would also get powers to seize disused land, while major housing projects could be fast-tracked, and rules on extensions in London relaxed.

Chancellor George Osborne said reforms were needed because Britain had been “incapable of building enough homes”.

It follows a warning this week’s Budget would cut investment in new homes reports BBC.

The proposed changes feature in a 90-page document to address Britain’s productivity record, to be released later.

It is aimed at boosting British workers’ output levels, which experts say lag behind other leading nations – an issue dubbed the “productivity puzzle”.

The chancellor’s Fixing the Foundations package has been billed by the Treasury as the second half of the Budget.

Under the new proposals – which will need to be approved by MPs – automatic planning permission would be granted on all “suitable” brownfield sites under a new “zonal” system, the Treasury said.

The term brownfield refers to land that has previously been developed but is vacant or derelict.

Another change would see ministers seek to scrap the need for planning permission in London for developers who want to extend buildings to the height of neighbouring properties.

Planning powers will be devolved to mayors in London and Manchester, while enhanced compulsory purchase powers will allow more brownfield land to be made available for development.

There would also be new sanctions for councils that do not deal with planning applications quickly enough, and the government would be able to intervene in councils’ local development plans.