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Boris Johnson unveils radical planning reforms to help ‘build, build, build’ out of coronavirus crisis

Boris Johnson unveiled new changes to the planning system (PA)

2 min read

The Prime Minister has unveiled radical changes to the planning system as part of his plans to “build, build, build” the UK out of the coronavirus crisis.

New regulations will give greater freedom for developers to convert vacant and redundant buildings in homes without the need for planning permission.

Boris Johnson made the announcement in his speech setting out the Government’s first step in its “build back better” agenda to kickstart the economy after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking in Dudley he said: “This is a government that is wholly committed not just to defeating coronavirus but to using this crisis finally to tackle this country’s great unresolved challenges of the last three decades.

“To build the homes, to fix the NHS, to tackle the skills crisis, to mend the indefensible gap in opportunity and productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK.  To unite and level up.

“To that end we will build build build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires.”

Under the new rules, which Downing Street are calling “the most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War”, existing commercial properties, including newly-vacant shops, can be converted into residential housing more easily.

However pubs, libraries, village shops and other uses deemed essential to local communities will not be covered by the new rules, which are set to come into effect by September.

Number 10 said the changes "will both support the high street revival by allowing empty commercial properties to be quickly repurposed and reduce the pressure to build on green field land by making brownfield development easier".

And they added: “Developers will still need to adhere to high standards and regulations, just without the unnecessary red tape.”

The PM also announced that work will begin to look at how land owned by the Government can be managed more effectively.

And there is a wider package of measures to support home building across England, such as a £12billion affordable homes programme to support up to 180,000 new properties for ownership and rent over the next eight years.

There will also be a planning policy paper in July setting out the Government’s plan for comprehensive reform of England’s seven-decade old planning system. 

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