Many view our current planning system as complex, long-winded and can be the cause of months of delays on construction sites of all sizes.
Whether planning is to blame for new homes not going up as quickly as predicted is another debate entirely, however this week the Government is stepping in with proposals for streamlining the system.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg have collectively announced plans which are hoped will lead to more projects being completed in quicker times, from small extensions to multi-million pound developments.
The biggest relaxations are for builders who work on domestic extensions (you can now extend by up to eight metres without needing full planning permission), and those who build small extensions on commercial units (up to 100sqm for retail, 200sqm for heavier industrial buildings).
Another headline grabbing feature is the plan to temporarily drop the requirement that larger developments must contain some social housing – developers may still need to prove why they’re not including affordable homes as part of their proposals.
On top of this, the Government is freeing up 40 billion pounds to be used as a guarantee for major infrastructure projects, and an additional 10 billion which will be used in the domestic sector. They are also putting more promotion into the FirstBuy scheme which helps first-time buyers get their inaugural deposit together.
If he’s got his facts and figures correct, Cameron believes these plans will create 70,000 new homes, and secure 140,000 construction industry jobs.
Some of the UK’s biggest business organisations have backed the announcement, but some green groups are against the changes, insisting the government should be turning its efforts to promoting the green economy which should in turn fuel the construction industry.
From the Energist side of the planning-approved fence, it’s worth pointing out these changes are not going to have much of an impact on the services we offer you.
Building Control is not going to be affected by these adjustments, so the need for Energy Performance Certificates, SAP and SBEM assessments for Part L, water efficiency calculations for Part G and air leakage testing requirements will not change as part of these changes.
The requirement to build some houses in line with the Code for Sustainable Homes may change, as may the need to provide Energy Statements with some developments, but until the revised planning rules are put into practice and councils start implementing them, it’s impossible for us to know for sure.