The Prime Minister will pile pressure on councils to approve vital home-building schemes by vowing to change planning rules in favour of new developments.
But she is also set to urge developers to deliver new homes with the prospect of new ‘use it or lose it’ contracts where planning permissions could lapse if builders sit on their hands.
Ministers have already announced plans to make it easier for people to extend their homes upwards by adding up to two storeys.
But Mrs May will go further and set out plans to change the National Planning Policy Framework to give councils more freedom but also more tools to encourage housebuilding.
Housing Minister Dominic Raab told The Mail on Sunday that the Tories were ‘restless to revive the Conservative dream of home ownership for those who today find it beyond their reach’.
Mr Raab said: ‘There can be no fudging it. Councils must get those houses built, as a minimum.’ But he sought to ease residents’ fears about new developments by saying the Government would provide ‘targeted funding’ for the necessary extra roads, schools and utilities.
He said developers must deliver, saying: ‘Planning permissions should be viewed more as contracts for delivery, not the start of a haggling process that exhausts local authorities and frustrates communities
Tomorrow, the government will publish proposals for planning reform, to hit the next gear in our drive to build the homes Britain needs, and make them more affordable for aspirational working Britons.
Home ownership in this country declined between 2003 and 2013. It has stabilised since, but we are restless to revive the Conservative dream of home ownership for those people who, today, find it beyond their reach.
We’re talking about the teachers, nurses and firemen delivering vital services in expensive neighbourhoods, who can’t afford to live in the very communities they serve. Or the working couple putting in over-time, saving to settle down and start a family, but who can’t build up a deposit because house prices are just too high. Last year, we saw 217,000 new homes delivered – 50% higher than when Labour left office. But, we need to do much more, if we’re going to build enough homes – at the prices more people can afford.
So, we’re changing the National Planning Policy Framework, which sets the rules councils apply to local home-building. We’re giving local councils greater freedom, and more tools, to build the homes their communities need. And if we’re going to build the homes we need – whilst protecting our precious Greenbelt – we’ll need to be more creative. Using the air space above existing buildings could unlock thousands of new homes. So, we’re making it easier to build upwards on existing blocks of flats and houses, as well as shops and offices. For example, an additional two levels could be added to a property, provided it is in keeping with the roofline of other buildings in the street or square. In practice, we will see more mews houses and terraced streets, rather than tower blocks.
In return, councils will have clearer expectations of the number of homes they must build for their communities. There can be no fudging it. Councils must get those homes built, as a minimum. If anything, we want them to go further. But, it’s not a one-way street. We’re investing billions of pounds to support ambitious local authorities. We recognise the challenges they face. Residents worry about new developments. Will it mean struggling to get an appointment at their local doctors’ surgery, or more congestion on the roads? So, ensuring that that new homes don’t add to existing pressure on services or quality of life is essential. Our targeted funding will provide the roads, utilities, schools and clinics so that, as we build more homes, we build up stronger communities too.
Developers play a key role in all of this. They are the ones who get the homes built, and technology is driving modern methods of construction, making it easier to build high quality homes at scale. Equally, we want to make sure that, when developers secure planning permissions, they build the homes and fund the infrastructure they said they would. Planning permissions should be viewed more as contracts for delivery, not the start of a haggling process that exhausts local authorities, and frustrates their communities. Sir Oliver Letwin’s review will report on this later in the year.