U.K. to Ditch ‘Outdated’ Planning Rules to Speed Construction

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Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick will announce a shake-up of the U.K.’s “outdated and cumbersome” planning rules this week, which he said will accelerate home construction and spur vital infrastructure projects.

The program of reform, which will echo Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call to “Build Build Build” to help kick-start the British economy after the coronavirus pandemic, will strip out bureaucracy and introduce a streamlined path to development in ‘growth’ and ‘renewal’ zones designated by local councils, Jenrick said.

“Under the current system, it takes an average of five years for a standard housing development to go through the planning system -- before a spade is even in the ground,” Jenrick wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. “We are introducing a simpler, faster, people-focused system to deliver the homes and places we need.”

The reforms will set guidelines for architecture and enable smaller companies to compete with large corporations as the new rules level the playing field for gaining planning consent, Jenrick said.

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The District Councils’ Network, which represents 187 planning authorities across England, said changes to the rules won’t deliver the boost to house building the government claims.

“Tens of thousands of homes with planning permission remain unbuilt -- the housing delivery system is broken, not the planning system,” Mark Crane, the network’s economy spokesman, said in a statement. “To tackle the housing crisis, councils need to be given the funding to invest in infrastructure and the powers to build homes that are green, high quality, and affordable.”

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