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Brokenshire to consult on upwards extensions PD right

Words: Martin Read
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The government is to consult on a new permitted development right to allow property owners to extend certain buildings upwards as part of new measures announced yesterday at the Conservative Party conference.

The announcements, which also include clearer guidance for communities when land is needed for new towns, and more flexibility for local authorities to dispose of surplus land to accommodate new homes, appear in a statement timed to follow the speech made yesterday by the Secretary of State for Housing and Local Communities.

Speaking in Birmingham, James Brokenshire reiterated the government’s aspiration of seeing 300,000 homes a year being built, calling the newly announced measures “further plans to speed up the planning system”. The government will introduce “more flexibility to extend upwards on existing blocks of flats, shops and offices making better use of space by increasing housing density.”

Brokenshire spoke of the need “to be smarter on how we use land and the space available… prioritising brownfield but also looking at land that’s already been built on.”

The oroposals subsequently published include plans to "permit people to build up on existing buildings rather than build out to use more precious land and give councils greater powers to deliver the garden communities of the future".

The government is to consult on these new measures in due course. Responding to the announcements, RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills commented: “Densification of built-up areas can bring about much-needed housing supply, but quality is as important as numbers. Blanket height extensions come with issues that have potentially serious impact on streetscape and people’s access to light. National policy can provide a favourable steer, but local communities should be able to set standards which enable higher buildings to make a positive contribution to housing supply. 

“New powers given to local authorities to speed up the creation of locally led garden communities are welcome. Large-scale developments are key to meeting the government’s targets, but it is vital that planning teams are properly resourced to deliver them strategically with proper consideration for design and transport links, so that they do not become isolated places that significantly increase car use.”

The MHCLG statement also outlines plans for a New Homes Ombudsman to support homebuyers facing problems with newly built homes and the intention to ensure a ‘lasting legacy from the 2022 Commonwealth Games’, which are to be held in Birmingham.

Image credit | Getty