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Planning system review ‘should go further’

Proposals announced last week by Chancellor George Osborne to reform the planning system in the UK may not do enough to address the shortage of new homes.

That is the view of Paul Smith, CEO of estate agent chain haart, who says that the government should have also considered extra tax incentives.

Osborne said on Friday that the rules surrounding planning permission on certain brownfield sites would be relaxed, and there will also be fewer restrictions on what developers in London will be allowed to do with regards to extending existing property.


Smith said: “The key to rebalancing the housing market is an injection of supply and the measures announced by the Chancellor will accelerate housebuilding in some areas and remove red-tape around planning. Along with the £100 million cash boost to small housebuilders announced last week, we are finally taking proactive steps toward getting Britain building again.”

But Smith added that ministers could go further. “Tax breaks for housebuilders would also encourage more building, as would incentives for budding grand designers looking to build a home of their own,” he said. 

“Population growth however means there will inevitably come a time when some difficult conversations will need to be had around nimbyism and which areas will be targeted for new homes.”

Smith said there was still not enough being done to encourage new buyers into the property market. “Our latest data shows a significant fall-off in first-time buyer registrations compared to last year, with around 23% fewer looking to take that first step on the property ladder, and the issue is affordability,” he explained. “First-time buyers struggle to pull together a deposit and have been hit by the decline of higher loan-to-value lending.”


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