Developers could get automatic planning permission
to build on disused industrial sites in England. Ministers
would also get powers to seize disused land, while major housing projects could
be fast-tracked, and rules on extensions in London relaxed.
Secretary Sajid Javid unveiled the
plans as part of a broader push to boost Britain's productivity.
came as official figures showed new house building fell by 5.8% in May, the
sharpest decline in nearly four years.
is a question mark over whether building more homes will boost productivity as
much as ministers claim and Labour said the Conservatives had a record of
making "empty promises" over the past five years.
sources say workers are more productive when they live closer to their jobs -
but critics say increasing airport capacity and electrifying the Transpennine
rail line would have a much bigger effect.
Mian, a director of the Social Market Foundation think tank, said: "I
think if I was thinking about a productivity plan, housing wouldn't be the
first issue I would leap to."
of the Trans Pennine line between Manchester and Leeds and a section of the
Midland Mainline has been delayed and a decision on a third runway at Heathrow,
recommended by an independent commission, will not be made until the end of the
have also questioned whether there is enough brownfield land - a term which
refers to land that has previously been developed but is vacant or derelict -
available to meet the UK's housing needs over the next 15 years.
the new proposals - which will need to be approved by MPs - automatic planning
permission would be granted on all "suitable" brownfield sites under
a new "zonal" system.
change would see ministers seek to scrap the need for planning permission in
London for developers who want to extend buildings to the height of
neighbouring properties, which they say will "add dynamism" to house
building in the capital.
Green belt land
powers will be devolved to mayors in London and Manchester, while enhanced
compulsory purchase powers will allow more brownfield land to be made available
would also be new sanctions for councils that do not deal with planning
applications quickly enough, and the government would be able to intervene in
councils' local development plans.
Mr Javid told the BBC the
141,000 new homes built last year were a fraction of those needed to meet
people will still have control over planning," he said.
point of this is to make sure we build more homes, that local people are still
rightly involved in those decisions and we find ways to speed it up."
was "no need" to build on green belt land, he insisted, to meet the
Carrot and stick
green belt can be rightly protected. There is plenty of land which is not green
belt that we can build on and which is suitable for housing and we need to get
on with it. We need to find new ways to encourage it."
2013, ministers were forced to back track on plans to allow single-storey
extensions of a certain size to be built without planning permission, so that
neighbours would have the right to be consulted on building work.
Field, Conservative MP for Westminster and the Cities of London, said the
chancellor may have "run out of patience" with councils for dragging
their feet on the issue and he expected "some kickback" against the
plans, including from Conservative-run county councils.
have tried the carrot approach with our councils and now we need to have more
of a stick," he told the BBC's Daily Politics. "Whether that stick
works is another matter."
the Local Government Association said councils were not holding up new homes
and that developers were not prioritising brownfield sites. It called for
stronger compulsory purchase order powers to allow councils to buy up sites
"stuck in the system".
said productivity had stagnated since 2010 and was forecast to fall in every
year up to 2020.
document is a patchwork of existing schemes rather than a substantial reform to
boost skills, business growth and wages," said shadow Treasury secretary
people need delivery, not more empty promises. Instead of investing in the
infrastructure and skills we need, the government are dithering on airports,
have cancelled the electrification of key rail lines and have rebadged existing
training as apprenticeships."
Fixing the Foundations package also includes measures on higher education,
transport, devolution of powers to cities and trade although much of its
contents were announced in Wednesday's Budget
in Birmingham at the report's launch, Mr Javid pledged to get "Britain
moving, building and learning".
acknowledged the UK was falling behind its competitors in terms of
productivity, saying it took British workers five days more than their German
counterparts to match their output per hour.
said, was not the fault of workers, whose commitment was "second to
none", but of the failure of successive governments to modernise
infrastructure and invest in skills and training.
£100bn would be spent on improving the transport network by 2020, he said,
warning that unless action was taken 100 million working days would be lost
every year to congestion by 2040.