Thurrock “landgrab” coming as budget “unblocks” planning system?

COMMUNITIES Secretary Eric Pickles has welcomed measures to improve the planning system, action to get the house building industry building again and steps to cut the amount of red tape for councils and business set out in today’s Budget.

The Department for Communities and Local Government report on their website that the Coalition plan to revive and rebalance the economy.

Over the coming months the Communities Secretary said that he will oversee a programme of work to “unblock the planning system, boost house building and attract new investment into the market, maintain environmental and countryside protections”.

“The reforms will put local councils, communities and local firms in the lead when it comes to delivering growth”.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles said:

” We are unblocking the complex, costly planning system, regenerating redundant sites and putting the brakes on the years of Whitehall micro-management that has tied business up in red tape, slowing and stifling growth.

“The current planning system is bureaucratic, we will make it easier to navigate. We have a system plagued by conflict and appeals.

We will establish a system where councils, communities and business work together. Instead of fighting against development imposed from Whitehall, local people will have a far greater influence over what is built in their area.

We will maintain protection for the Green Belt and the environment – as we are committed to sustainable growth.

“Every new home built will create jobs in the UK building industry. Before we took office house building had slumped to its lowest peacetime level since 1924.

“We are turning this around, providing support for first time buyers, encouraging private investment in housing, accelerating the release of public sector land and putting in place powerful new incentives that will give communities a share in the rewards of growth.

“Together, these measures to support local jobs and local firms will play a crucial part in the Government’s wider work to get the economy back on its feet.”

Consult on proposals to increase housing supply by deregulating the planning system so it is easier for developers to change vacant offices into new homes.
To make sure the right land is available in the right place for development the Department will:

Accelerate the release of surplus public sector land supporting the creation of new homes and jobs. The Homes and Communities Agency will lead the way including making use of ‘build now, pay later’ schemes whereby house builders will be given surplus government land which they will only pay for once properties built on it are sold.

Reform the planning system through a range of measures, including the introduction of a powerful new presumption in favour of sustainable development.

The answer to development and growth should wherever possible be ‘yes’, except where this would compromise the key sustainable development principles set out in national planning policy.

Remove centrally imposed, top down targets that have dictated levels of development on previously developed land. Present rules are overly prescriptive and have in some cases led to perverse outcomes – e.g. imbalances in provision between blocks of flats and family homes. Councils will be able to identify the most sustainable locations for growth in their areas, having regard to the coalition commitment to protect the environment, including maintaining the Green Belt and other environmental designations.

Pilot elements of the land auctions models, starting with public sector land. One of the biggest barriers to development is the shortage of land with planning permission. Auctioning parcels of land with planning permission has the potential to bring forward more land for development, increase competition in development and provide greater certainty for developers. The outcome of the pilot will inform further consideration of the wider land auctions model.

Place a new Duty to Cooperate on councils to work together to address planning issues that impact beyond local boundaries such as transport, housing or infrastructure.

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