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Government takes “significant” step towards solving UK’s housing crisis

The Government has taken a major step towards solving the country’s housing crisis and improving productivity, with bold new changes to support house builders, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Under planning reforms announced as part of the Government’s Productivity plan, a new zonal system is set to be introduced, which will effectively give automatic planning permission on suitable brownfield sites.

Brian Berry, FMB chief executive, said: “For some time, the whole construction industry has being challenging the Government to solve the housing crisis at its root cause: supply. Ministers’ renewed focus on supply will in turn improve affordability, which is another top priority for the current Government.

“Housing has for too long been put in a separate box from economic development, infrastructure needs and productivity. Today’s announcement marks a significant step towards correcting that imbalance. It also shows an admirable determination to free up smaller locally-based house builders to do what they do best and deliver high quality housing on small sites in sustainable locations.”

Berry continued: “All too often new house building programmes are heavily focused on large strategic sites. While this is an important part of the market, the resulting tendency is to ignore the great cumulative potential of the very large number of small sites dotted around the country. In doing so, we have marginalised smaller locally-based house building companies and failed to utilise the capacity of this section of the industry.

“Smaller brownfield sites are often the bread and butter of these firms, but the time and cost involved in obtaining planning permission even for the smallest of sites can be hugely disproportionate and prohibitive for many smaller firms. What we need are much more streamlined processes and real accountability from the planning system for delivery on small sites. Measures announced today, like the move towards more automatic planning permission for suitable brownfield sites and the extension of the planning performance regime to minor applications will help achieve precisely this and the Government deserves great credit for these bold steps.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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