Planning blitz to speed up building of homes, hospitals and schools, according to MPs

Robert Jenrick advises UK to 'wait' before booking travel

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Outdated rules and red tape will be ditched to get Britain moving again in the biggest shake-up for a generation. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it will create thousands of post-pandemic jobs. He pledged to revive town centres by removing eyesores, transforming unused buildings and making the most of brownfield land.  The Cabinet minister promised that precious green belt land will continue to be protected.

Mr Jenrick said: “We are creating the most small business-friendly planning system in the world to provide the flexibility needed for high streets to bounce back from the pandemic.

“By diversifying our town and city centres and encouraging the conversion of unused shops into cafes, restaurants or even new homes we can help the high street to adapt and thrive.”

Mr Jenrick added: “The public also want improvements to public services as quickly as possible.

“So these changes will also help schools and hospitals to adapt quickly to changing needs, with a new fast track for extending public service buildings.

“This will help deliver more classrooms and hospital space.” 

All new streets will have to be laid out as tree-lined under the blueprint, while future homes must become carbon neutral by 2050.

The overhaul is set out in a white paper, Planning For The Future, published today.

The shake-up is expected to help the Government head towards its target of 300,000 new homes a year.

The changes allow bigger extensions to public buildings including schools, colleges and hospitals, which ministers hope will enable them to grow faster.

Turning unused commercial buildings into housing will encourage more people to live near high streets and travel to the area for both work and leisure, it is hoped.

The homes will be delivered via a simpler “prior approval” process instead of a full planning application and will be subject to high standards, ensuring they provide adequate natural light and meet space requirements.

Currently, public buildings can have small extensions without requiring full planning application.

The changes include protections to stop statues being removed. Planning permission will be required for monument alterations, to stop Britain’s history being “censored”.

If heritage body Historic England objects to a council’s approval of such a removal, the Communities Secretary will have the final say.

Comment by Robert Jenrick

For too long, the planning rules to extend vital public service buildings such as schools, prisons and hospitals have been frustrating and slow, with unnecessary red tape getting in the way.

The new fast track for public services makes it simpler and quicker to deliver the schools and hospitals we promised to build in our manifesto.

Like the rest of the planning reforms, the changes will also help protect and create thousands of jobs in the construction industry.

As we emerge from the pandemic, our priority is to level up and help deliver the public services that local people want and deserve.

We are at a once-in-a-generation turning point to make lasting changes.

Our announcement today builds on the work and investment we’re making to help our high streets and town centres to modernise and adapt, as well as plans to transform the way we build in general.

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