After much hype and predictions on what the Chancellor would do to kick start the next housing phase, it turned out to be yet another budget with the inevitable announcements on planning.
As expected, there was more of the usual, such as extending permitted development rights, but, the announcement on the demolition of commercial buildings and replacement with housing was an unusual departure from the current Permitted Development rights. Inevitably, there will have to be additional safeguards in place and also some form of a prior approval process for this to be successful. But will this proposal like many others before it become dumbed down?
Those of us who were looking for more radical reforms will have to be patient. There were some new ideas, such as a new form of ‘exception’ site (housing being built for first time buyers), but we’ll have to wait to see further details before we pass judgement on that one!
The de-allocation of sites from local plans looks interesting: at present, changes in land designation are at the behest of Local Authorities and their timetable for updating and producing new plans. If enacted, this change could result in greater flexibility where sites are not always materialising for their intended use.
We see some good ideas in the budget but are the proposals likely to deliver the 300,000 new homes a year the government has set out? Don’t forget we are still awaiting the construction of the 200,000 starter homes promised in the 2014 budget!
Will the Chancellor’s proposals and ideas help build the houses we desperately need or should he have gone much further with more radical reforms and legislation?
The only thing we can safely prediction is that there will be many more consultations in the coming weeks and months.