When it became apparent that Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick pushed through approval for the Westferry housing project in an alleged ‘cash for favours’ scandal, Boris Johnson’s plans to ‘Build, Build, Build’ seemed to have hit a snag.
But now, with Jenrick’s position seemingly secure for the time being after admitting that he shouldn’t have engaged with Tory tycoon Richard Desmond at a fundraising dinner, the Government now sees fit to implement its long-overdue planning revolution.
This week, Jenrick and Johnson announced their plan to conduct a complete overhaul of the UK’s planning system. Under the new rules, communities will be consulted from the beginning of the planning process, using technology to make the process far more accessible than it already is. If passed into law, local people will have substantial authority over which areas can be developed and which can’t.
The Government has also decided to throw a bone to aspiring homeowners, perhaps recognising that those under the age of 30 are at a substantial disadvantage to their parents, who may have had an easier time in saving up for their first home. The new First Homes home ownership scheme will provide homes with a 30% discount to first-time buyers and key workers as well as consulting on how they can be delivered through the planning system.
But schemes such as this may not be enough for first time buyers. Due to the continued economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the UK’s second largest mortgage lender, Nationwide, announced this week that first time buyers must prove they have saved 75% of a 10% deposit themselves. Does this cap on gifts spell the end for the bank of mum and dad?
That being said, these new proposals by the Government ought to be welcomed. Many would agree that the UK has lagged behind its European counterparts in relation to major infrastructure projects for too long, due to the sheer amount of red tape and planning permission preventing the first shovel from being put in the ground.
These proposals are no doubt just the start of a continued shake up of local government and will enable more homes to be built on the appropriate spaces, provide businesses with the space to develop, and better protect green space in a bid to protect our environment.