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Planning Free Affordable Housing Could Transform The High Street

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Social Housing  Eric Pickles  Andrew Montague 

Planning Free Affordable Housing Could Transform The High Street

By - Wednesday 22 May 2013

A new ruling could regenerate the high street and improve the commercial and residential property market in one fell swoop.

Following the announcement back in January, Consensus Capital Property (CCP) has now revealed plans to build 1,500 social housing units across England.

The company claims that the planning changes, which will come into effect at the end of this month, will reduce the cost of converting offices into affordable homes.

It suggests that by removing the planning process to convert disused office space into residential accommodation the cost savings will encourage more developers to create affordable housing.

CCP's managing director, Andrew Montague, said: “England’s high streets have suffered enormously over the last five years, and at the same time there is a serious shortage of homes in the affordable rented sector. The planning changes coming into force at the end of May are very good news for social landlords who are facing significant demand for people who need access to affordable homes."

When Eric Pickles announced the changes earlier this year he stressed that the massive shortfall in housing was a contributory factor. He explained that the ruling would make the best use of developed sites, generate jobs in construction and help regenerate the high street.

The permitted development right will remain in place for three years, but local councils will have the option to veto projects in exceptional circumstances.

“We are absolutely determined to support people striving to bring life back to their communities and high streets,” Mr Pickles said.

CCP is now in talks with a number of English councils to acquire vacant and derelict property for its new housing project.

The company has already raised GBP 50 million for a similar project in Scotland, with construction currently underway in Perth. However planning permission has already been granted for a scheme in Edinburgh, and developments are being considered in London, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham too.

“The country desperately needs something to put real impetus behind the recovery, and we think this approach could play some part in achieving that,” Mr Montague said.

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