Overhaul of ‘outdated and complex’ planning system to build homes faster


Plans for a radical shake-up of a “complex and outdated planning system” are due to be announced this week, in a bid to speed up the building of new homes.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has proposed a complete overhaul of a system that has been in place since just after the Second World War, and one he said has failed to keep up with the needs of the country.

Part of the new process will involve quicker development on land which has been designated “for renewal”, with a “permission in principle” approach that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said will balance the need for proper checks with a speedier way of working.

The other two categories will see land designated for growth where new homes, hospitals and schools will be allowed automatically to empower development, while areas of outstanding natural beauty and the green belt will come under the protection category.

The new process will be done through democratic local agreement, be clearer and cut out red tape, the Government said.

Mr Jenrick said: “For too long home ownership has remained out of reach for too many, as a complex and outdated planning system has failed to keep up with the needs of our country.

“I am completely overhauling the system so we can build more good quality, attractive and affordable homes faster – and more young families can finally have the key to their own home.”

The new plans will focus on quality and design, the department said, and be inspired by the idea of design codes and pattern books that built the picturesque city of Bath, village of Bournville and district of Belgravia in London.

Mr Jenrick wrote in The Sunday Telegraph: “John Ruskin said that we must build, and ‘when we do, let us think that we build forever’. That will be the guiding principle as we set out the future of the planning system.

“We will build environmentally-friendly homes that will not need to be expensively retrofitted in the future, homes with green spaces and new parks at close hand, where tree-lined streets are provided for in law, where neighbours are not strangers,” he added.

The Government said the new approach will work through an interactive and accessible map-based online system “placing planning at the fingertips”.

The changes come after the Prime Minister promised last month to “build, build, build” his way out of the coronavirus crisis.

Boris Johnson said he would slash “newt-counting” red tape in the planning system to speed up delivery of infrastructure projects and homes.