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After many years of unresolved supply issues in the UK housing market, the government has announced that thousands of new homes will be built on unused and previously developed land under radical new plans to release brownfield sites to homebuilders.
Local councils will play a critical role in fast-tracking brownfield land, including sites with outline planning permission in Local Development Orders (LDOs) to speed up the building of new homes.
It is estimated that the programme will provide up to 200,000 permissions for new homes by 2020, according to the government. Included in the plans will be 20 new housing zones on brownfield land in London which stand to benefit from £400m funding from the government and the Greater London Authority. In addition, a further £200m of government funding will be made available for 10 zones outside of London.
The announcement came from Chancellor George Osborne who said: "We have beautiful landscapes and they too are part of the inheritance of the next generation. To preserve them we must make other compromises. If we want to limit development on important green spaces, we have to remove all obstacles that remain to development on brownfield sites."
The plans include radical steps to put LDOs on over 90% of brownfield sites that are considered suitable for housing. "This urban planning revolution will mean that in effect development on these sites will be pre-approved. Local authorities will be able to specify the type of housing and it will mean planning permission for up to 200,000 new homes while at the same time protecting our green space", he explained.
Anticipating a backlash, Osborne said "I suspect there will be people who object to new building, even on the brownfields of our cities. But let me be clear, I will not stand by and allow this generation, many of whom have been fortunate to own their own home, to say to the next generation: we're pulling up the property ladder behind us. So we will build the houses Britain needs to that more families can have the economic security that comes with home ownership".
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles said that plans will make the very best use of derelict land and former industrial sites to provide new homes. "By ensuring commitments to housing development are in place early and having dedicated housing zones, building becomes quicker and easier for homebuilders, businesses and councils."
Local Development Orders are a flexible means of granting planning permission on brownfield land. LDOs can set out the amount and type of housing that can be built on sites and assist developers in designing schemes that will get construction started on site quicker. The first wave of new LDOs will be underpinned by a new £5m fund expected to be launched before the summer.
Bids for funding for housing zones outside London will be invited by the government later this year and officials have stressed that key safeguards will remain in place with the views of local people together with the housing needs of the communities being taken fully into account, as with any planning application.
Executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation, Stewart Baseley said that announcement will allow homebuilders to get onto new sites much more quickly. "Two of the biggest barriers to brownfield housing development are the costs of bringing sites into production and the long delays, sometimes years, homebuilders can face obtaining an implementable planning permission," he commented.
Anxious to include affordable homes in the plans, Osborne said: "The new housing zones will be a shot in the arm for house building in London, creating tens of thousands of new homes for hardworking families across the capital."
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