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Real estate developers have criticized the government for downplaying proposals to revamp England’s planning system, warning that it could undermine Boris Johnson’s plan to build 300,000 new homes a year.
The British Prime Minister’s proposals for a ‘once in a generationReform of the planning system, unveiled last August, aimed to limit the power of local councils to thwart developments in an effort to accelerate the delivery of new housing and infrastructure.
The most radical of the reforms was the creation of a new ‘zoning’ system that would allow automatic planning permission for new projects on land categorized according to the ‘development’ scheme, provided that it met certain criteria.
But the government has abandoned plans for development areas after a setback by some MPs, according to people familiar with the proposals. Instead, smaller sites will be destined for growth, but with a less strong suspicion in favor of approval.
‘It’s incredibly disappointing. The government said the planning system was broken, but they could not do the solution they had proposed, so they watered it down, “said Matthew Pratt, CEO of FTSE 250 home builder Redrow.
‘We just want certainty in the future and that things are a little more predictable. If you want to grow an industry, you can not switch it on and off. ”
Meanwhile, Robert Jenrick, who as housing secretary drew up the original plans and was subsequently forced to dilute them, was fired by Johnson on Wednesday, adding to the sense of chaos surrounding the policy.
The prime minister has set a goal of building 300,000 new homes a year by 2025, compared to the 241,000 delivered in 2019. The government is expected to push from within the party.
Johnson was rebelled against by many Conservative MPs, especially in leafy southern constituencies, who said the plans were a “development charter”.
He was particularly concerned when local resistance helped drive the Liberal Democrats to a by-election victory 10 weather forecast for Chesham and Amersham. “He [Johnson] was always shaky about it, ”said one ally.
One industry figure who originally supported the reforms conceded that the idea of ’development zones’ had always been problematic because it would remove democratic involvement from the planning system. “You can not just force people to accept houses in their area,” he admitted.
James Thomson, CEO of home builder Gleeson Homes, said he supported the plans and was disappointed that ministers had watered them down.
“It feels like there was almost a complete U-turn,” he said. ‘It feels a bit like a missed opportunity to make the planning system easier and looks more like a case of no change,’ adding that the review would be more prone to ‘adjustments’ than a revolutionary overhaul of the system.
The amended planning reforms will include developers paying a fee for local infrastructure and affordable housing schemes.
“It’s hard to see that it’s having a really big impact,” said Matthew Spry, a director at planning consultant Lichfields, who warned that piece of intervention could do more harm than good to home delivery.
‘The infrastructure levy is going to be the biggest change. . .[But]”If you just launch it, you still have all the delays and uncertainties that can help you move forward with the development,” he said.
However, Tory rebels have warned that they are still ready to fight the proposals, even if they are amended.
“While it is quite encouraging that ministers are pointing out that their planning bill will not be as radical as proposed in the White Paper, I remain deeply concerned about the future of the planning system,” said Theresa Villiers, a former minister and leading planner. , said rebel.
The government declined to comment.