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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Brokers welcome Osborne’s planning reforms

Mortgage brokers and property companies have welcomed government proposals to overhaul Britain’s planning laws and increase housebuilding.

Chancellor George Osborne announced on Friday that automatic planning permission would be granted on what ministers decide are “suitable” brownfield sites, while in London developers will be given greater freedom to extend upwards.

Andy Frankish, new homes director at Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “This announcement marks a definitive step towards overcoming the ineffective planning laws that prevent healthy levels of housebuilding. It is good to see that the government has again acknowledged the extent of Britain’s housing shortage: demand has long outstripped supply, and the affordability problems faced by first time buyers are at risk of becoming acute.”

Frankish added that proposals to bypass local councils when granting planning permission for brownfield cites were “long overdue”.

“With such severe shortages of housing stock across the country, it is ludicrous that brownfields sites remain underutilised, and granting automatic permission is a common sense approach,” he said.

Justin Gaze, Knight Frank’s joint head of residential development, added: “The government’s announcement today concerning changes to the planning system is a step in the right direction. Yet policymakers still fail to address the fundamental issue of development capacity across the industry and the ever increasing cost of materials.

“From bricklayers to site managers, the lack of skilled construction workers and professionals in Britain is one of the largest factors that continues to constrain the supply of new homes. Until this is addressed, it is unlikely we will see a marked change to development volumes.”

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