George Osborne's productivity plan: Tories promise housebuilding boom to lift economy

George Osborne revealed a house planning overhaul as the cherry on top of his Budget (Source: Getty)
Chancellor George Osborne will today put housebuilding at the centre of his plans to reverse Britain’s poor rates of productivity.

Alongside business secretary Sajid Javid, Osborne will argue that “sweeping new changes to planning laws” can boost productivity by allowing people to live – and businesses to be located – in more efficient areas.

The plans include a so-called zonal system to give “automatic planning permission on all suitable brownfield sites,” a move aimed at speeding up the development of disused land.

The government will also punish local authorities that fail to make planning decisions on time, and work with the Mayor of London to make it easier to build extensions in the capital.

The measures will also require higher-density development around key commuter hubs.

“The reforms we made to the planning system in the last parliament have started to improve the situation: planning permissions and housing starts are at a seven-year high,” Osborne said.

“But we need to go further and I am not prepared to stand by when people who want to get on the housing ladder can’t do so,” he added in a statement released last night ahead of the launch of the productivity plan in Birmingham today.

The measures form part of a 90-print blueprint – in effect the second half of this week’s Budget – that also includes proposals on higher education, transport and trade.

Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy at the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors said introducing measures to boost productivity through planning was “a forward step in guaranteeing property led growth.”

“While these new measures build on the National Planning Policy Framework and are welcome, the system needs to really pick up speed in order to deliver the vibrant property sector on which the success of our economy depends.”

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