Councils ordered to back developers or lose powers

CHANCELLOR George Osborne last night revealed “radical” new rules on housing that he said would push local authorities to let developers build on almost all brownfield land – or central government might bypass council controls altogether.

The chancellor said that he expected 90 per cent of appropriate brownfield land to be covered by pre-approved planning permission in six years, freeing up as many as 200,000 new homes across the country.

If the local authorities fail to live up to the government’s expectations, the Treasury is consulting on the possibility that housing developers will be able to go straight to Whitehall for approval to build, cutting out the potential that councils would try to block construction plans.

Today, the chancellor and mayor of London Boris Johnson will also announce a series of 20 “housing zones” around London, which should accommodate 50,000 homes. Johnson will be granted extra powers to strip back planning restrictions.

Five of the areas in the capital are already earmarked, in Enfield, Tower Hamlets, Ealing, Haringey and Wandsworth, with a £400m pot from the Treasury and Greater London Authority to assist building.

Brownfield land is any site which has previously been developed – and the move will cover any such areas which are not contaminated.

“I will not stand by and allow this generation, many of whom have been fortunate enough to own their own home, to say to the next generation: we’re pulling up the property ladder behind us,” said Osborne.

Despite the major commitment, the country needs to build 300,000 homes every year to meet housing needs, according to the Future Homes Commission.

Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners, a planning consultancy, have also added that no region in the country has enough brownfield land to meet projections for household growth over the next 15 years. In addition, the land is spread across the country rather than in the regions where the supply shortage is most acute.