The Government is right to relax planning rules to make it easier for homeowners and businesses to build additional storeys, according to the Builders Merchants’ Federation (BMF).
New-build cannot provide enough homes needed in London to overcome the housing crisis. The BMF wants to see better use made of existing buildings – and allowing building upwards to add extra storeys must be part of the solution that leads to the completion of extra housing.
The BMF was responding to an announcement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government after it carried out a consultation seeking views on proposals to enable London to “build up” more easily to reduce the pressure to “build out” in providing much-needed homes – whilst at the same time protecting the Green Belt. The BMF took part in the consultation exercise.
Making the announcement, Sajid Javid MP, the Secretary of State, said: “The answer to building new homes isn’t always an empty plot, or developing on a derelict site. That’s why we are looking to strengthen planning rules to encourage developers to look at opportunities to build upwards where possible when delivering the homes the country needs”.
John Newcomb, BMF Chief Executive, commented: “No-one wants a repeat of bad high-rise housing from the past. But the BMF believes better use can be made of existing buildings. The Minister is right to conclude there is scope to increase the number of new homes. Allowing London property to be extended upwards, for limited number of storeys, up to the height of adjoining buildings, without needing prior approval, is a good way to do so. It is not the single solution to today’s housing crisis but it is a good one, worth pursuing”.
The capital’s population is projected to be 10.8 million by 2041, and many more extra homes per year are required to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply. In the Mayor of London’s draft London Plan, that is currently open for public consultation, Sadiq Khan proposes a new London-wide housebuilding target of 65,000 new homes for each of the next 10 years.
John Newcomb noted that for many voters, housing is the no.1 domestic policy priority. Enabling London to “build up” more easily ought to enable owner-occupiers and landlords to complete properly-considered and un-contentious projects that conform to the rules, he added. The BMF has lobbied in favour of building upwards over the last two years, with three different Housing Ministers, including Alok Sharma MP, who attended BMF Members’ Day in September 2017.