Planning overhaul will protect our precious countryside, vows Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove will champion an overhaul of planning rules designed to save the greenbelt while boosting the number of new homes
Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove will champion an overhaul of planning rules designed to save the greenbelt while boosting the number of new homes - WPA POOL/GETTY
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Cities which fail to meet tough new housing targets will be forced to build on brownfield sites to “protect our precious countryside”, Rishi Sunak has announced.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister will champion an overhaul of planning rules designed to protect the greenbelt while boosting the number of new homes.

Under the proposals millions of homeowners will also be allowed to build bigger extensions to their property without having to get planning permission.

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, will unveil the changes after warning young voters risk being turned away from democracy if more homes are not built.

Rules have been drawn up which will mean the 20 biggest cities have to fulfil 95 per cent of their housing needs or be made to build on brownfield sites.

To help them hit the target the laws around converting commercial buildings like former office blocks and department stores into flats are being relaxed.

‘Overcome tiresome bureaucracy’

Ministers said the reforms will “overcome tiresome bureaucracy” and allow thousands of properties across England to be repurposed as new homes.

Downing Street has London in particular in its sights after accusing Sadiq Khan, the capital’s mayor, of failing to approve enough new developments.

Mr Sunak said: “We pledged to build the right homes in the right places – protecting our precious countryside and building more in urban areas where demand is highest.

“We are sticking to our plan and are on track to meet our commitment to deliver one million homes over the course of this Parliament.

“The changes announced today will deliver the right mix of homes across England.”

Under the current rules, councils only have to meet 75 per cent of their annual housing requirement to avoid being forced into allowing more brownfield development.

Bigger extensions and loft conversions

Ministers are now hiking that target to 95 per cent in a move that they say will deliver up to 11,500 extra new homes every year in London alone.

Mr Gove said the Government was “taking a brownfield first approach to deliver thousands of new homes where people want to live and work, without concreting over the countryside”.

“Our new brownfield presumption will tackle underdelivery in our key towns and cities – where new homes are most needed to support jobs and drive growth,” he added.

Under the changes millions of homeowners will also be able to build bigger extensions and loft conversions without needing permission.

The proposals will see homeowners allowed to extend outwards from their property by an extra metre without having to apply to the council for permission.

It would mean the owner of a semi-detached house being able to build back by four metres, whilst detached homes could be extended by five metres.

Mr Gove has previously said he wants to relax the rules around extensions both outwards and upwards to improve housing density in Britain’s cities.

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