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Wed July 15 2020

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Government tells councils to get building over railway stations

13 Mar Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has published proposals for more changes to the planning system to encourage more house-building in town centres and above railway stations.

Next month the government will launch a register of brownfield sites. This will map out unused land as part of plans to encourage councils to get this land developed first.

Developers wanting to demolish vacant commercial, industrial and residential buildings and replace them with housing homes will get fast-track planning, under the proposals being consulted on by the housing ministry.

All local authorities will also be required to have up-to-date local plans in place by December 2023, or risk government intervention. 

The changes come ahead a planning white paper, expected in the next few weeks, building on previously announced proposals for a ‘fast track for beauty’.

In the budget this week the chancellor of the exchequer outlined new funding for an extension of the Affordable Homes Programme with a new, multi-year settlement of £12bn, plus more than £1bn of allocations from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to build nearly 70,000 new homes in high demand areas across the country. Further details of this are available in a document called Planning for the Future.

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This documents explains how the government wants local councils “to consider innovative options, such as housing-led regeneration of their high streets, building upwards on already developed land and stations, densifying gently in existing residential areas and making the most of their under-utilised brownfield land”.

On the push to build above stations, it says: “It is vital that we make the most of existing transport hubs, encouraging modern, green communities where people live close to public transport.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: “We must think boldly and creatively about the planning system to make it fit for the future, and this is just the first step, so we can deliver the homes communities need and help more young people onto the ladder.”

The House Builders Association (HBA) welcomed the proposals. Rico Wojtulewicz, the HBA’s head of housing and planning, said: “After five years of asking the government to build within communities, map brownfield land, digitise planning and ensure actual housing need is being met, these and other announcements prove that the government is listening to the wider industry. We have a long way to go but this a great first step and welcomed news.”

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) also likes the ideas. John Alker, director of policy and places at UKGBC, said: “We welcome the focus on good design, greener homes and sustainable placemaking in today’s statement. As we have seen from the recent Housing Audit project, sadly the majority of new housing does not achieve the standards required to address the environmental or social challenges we face. It is vital that quantity goes hand in hand with quality, a point which appears to have been acknowledged in today’s announcement."

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