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Councils given more power to veto greenfield developments

Housing secretary Michael Gove has introduced native authorities may have extra energy to reject housebuilding within the greenbelt.

Setting out the most recent model of the Nationwide Planning Coverage Framework, which guides England’s planning departments, he stated local-housing-need assessments needs to be seen as solely “advisory” when pit in opposition to environmental, heritage and aesthetic considerations.

Talking on the Royal Institute of British Architects headquarters on Tuesday morning (19 December), Gove additionally gave councils with a five-year housing plan extra energy to reject speculative improvement.

The announcement got here the day after the House Builders Federation launched its newest Housing Pipeline Report, which confirmed the bottom quarterly planning permission approvals for housing websites because it began recording the info in 2006.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto had a goal of constructing 300,000 properties a 12 months. Final 12 months, Gove stated this goal was solely a “start line”.

Mark Buddle, head of residential improvement at property consultancy Bidwells, stated: “Gove’s diluting of housing targets is indicative of the federal government’s aversion to concrete motion in relation to getting housing improvement, and progress extra broadly, shifting.

“Sadly, efficient options appear nicely out of attain so long as our eternally flip-flopping housing secretary, and the federal government that helps him, stay beholden to the all-too-fickle nature of political energy and noisy, parochial curiosity teams.”

The plan encourages improvement on brownfield websites. It additionally means that inexpensive housing provision on these websites could be decreased by “a proportionate quantity”.

The up to date framework states that planning selections ought to apply a presumption in favour of sustainable improvement, contemplating native infrastructure, impression on the surroundings and climate-change mitigation.

It additionally promotes the usage of small websites for self- and custom-build properties and eased restrictions on extending buildings upwards with a mansard roof.

Andrew Shepherd, managing director at modular housebuilder TopHat, stated: “It’s welcome that as a part of his planning and housing speech immediately Michael Gove has introduced a presumption in favour of sustainable improvement – a coverage that mirrors our personal calls to ministers as one of many initiatives wanted to turbo cost the modern volumetric modular housing sector.

“Whereas the satan can be within the element, the strategy may act as a catalyst for rising the planning permission granted to ship our stunning, inexperienced, volumetric modular properties.”

Gove additionally took councils to process, asserting that the federal government would publish league tables evaluating how rapidly councils reply to planning purposes and what number of every approve.

He stated he would seek the advice of on banning planning departments from utilizing extension-of-time agreements (permitting additional time to contemplate a proposal) on householder purposes or utilizing them repeatedly.

Alistair Watson, UK head of planning and surroundings at regulation agency Taylor Wessing, stated: “[The] authorities is much less like Father Christmas and extra just like the Planning Grinch.

“The federal government has missed the most important alternative to make a big distinction.

“The actual property sector, together with critical and skilled planners and native authorities, think about that the federal government has obtained this improper. Why does it assume that it’s proper?”

On Monday (18 December), Gove despatched a letter to London mayor Sadiq Khan, informing him that he had commissioned  an unbiased assessment of the London Plan, which units out tips for brand spanking new buildings within the capital.

He wrote: “Should you can’t do what is required to ship the properties that London wants, I’ll.”

The latest model, printed in 2021, set a goal for 50 per cent of recent properties to be genuinely inexpensive.

In his speech on Tuesday, Gove stated he would “reserve the best to intervene” if Khan rejected the suggestions.

Khan wrote on X (previously Twitter) on Tuesday that the Conservatives had been “desperately making an attempt to distract from their catastrophic housing document.”