3 July 2020 by Amie Mackay

Build Build Build!

Boris Johnson has this week announced radical reforms to our planning system together with a new £5billion recovery plan for the UK property market.  The objective here is not only to help boost the economy but also to make it easier to build better homes where people want to live.

What planning changes are proposed?

The new regulations will:

  • allow for a change of use to residential without planning permission; and
  • allow for vacant and redundant commercial premises to be regenerated without the need for planning, provided they are rebuilt as residential homes.

The aim here is to allow vacant commercial properties, such as shops that have suffered due to Covid-19 and will be unable to re-open, to be converted into residential units easily and flexibly, avoiding the lengthy and costly processes involved with planning applications.

Note that:

  • developers will need to maintain all the usual standards in adhering to Building Regulations and professional standards of construction (i.e. to the new home warrant provider); and
  • pubs, libraries and other ‘essential’ uses will not all be covered by the changes and strict measures will still apply to these types of buildings.

We are also hoping to see the implementation of a new ‘fast track’ system allowing property owners to build on the airspace above their existing properties.  This is great news for freeholders and it is hoped these changes will come into effect by September this year.

At the same time, the government is trying to support home building throughout England in a scheme dubbed ‘Project Speed’.  The following initiatives are proposed:

  • New Homes Plan – providing £12bn of funding towards creating up to 180,000 affordable new homes, to buy or rent, over the next 8 years.
  • First Homes Scheme – providing 30% discounts on homes to first time buyers.
  • Home Builders Fund – designed to help smaller developers access funding with an aim to build around 7,200 new homes.

For more information on the proposed changes, please contact Amie Mackay on 020 7288 4758 or at AmieMackay@boltburdon.co.uk.

You can also contact one of our other solicitors in the Residential Real Estate team here.

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