In our most recent blog we touched on the subject of house building and looked at why some small and medium sized developers are being put off developing new homes by existing council tax rules. As we mentioned, the subject of building new homes is never far from the news and this week the government have announced a series of new measures in an attempt to speed of the process of getting homes built.

Under new proposals, homeowners and developers requiring planning permission would be able to able to submit their planning applications to their local authority, a competing authority or a government approved organisation for approval. Whilst the final say on all applications would be with the local authority, it is hoped this new process would speed up the planning services and avoid the frustration caused by drawn out planning applications.

When asked about the new process, Communities Secretary Greg Clark said:

“Council planning departments play a vital role in getting local house building off the ground, but for too long they have had no incentive to get things done quickly or better, resulting in drawn out applications and local frustration. These proposals will be a boost for house builders looking to build much needed new homes for hard working families and first time buyers, and for local people looking to get a planning permission for home improvements through their local council quicker.”

Other measures included in the consultation process are:

  • Identifying how a new planning ‘permission in principle’ process could be introduced.
  • Explaining how local councils will run brownfield land and small sites registers.
  • Recommendations for how to speed up the neighbourhood planning process.
  • Introducing new thresholds for identifying councils as ‘poor performers’ in an attempt to improve the handling of planning applications.
  • Extending the permitted development rights to free schools.

The new measures have been widely welcomed by people within the industry and in response Pete Redfern of Taylor Wimpey said:

“Taylor Wimpey welcomes today’s announcements on a consultation proposing the introduction of competition in the processing of applications, the provision of fast tracking of application processing and future fee increases linked to council performance. Whilst many local authorities perform well, there are those which struggle with resources and performance, causing significant delay to otherwise acceptable development. 
Today’s consultation offers local authorities and applicants alternative processing routes and the prospect of higher fees, where good performance levels can be demonstrated, which when combined will offer improved speed and quality of planning services.”

It is expected that further details of how the new process will be run will be released after a consultation period has been completed