I know that in modern times the Budget has become far more than just the chief account reading out the end of year figures and the countries spending and revenue raising plans for the next year.
However, this practice of having the chief bean-counter make announcements about yet further changes to the planning system, clearly designed to avoid spending any government money at any cost, is really grating.
For starters, this is not a subject area one would associate with Philip Hammond – anymore than I would with Sajid Javid come to that. Secondly, putting everything into the hands of developers and the private sector, when this is supposedly a top priority for government, seems to be both disingenuous and a betrayal of those in desperate need of affordable market housing.
This desperation to avoid giving local government its rightful role in leading the campaign to get Britain building houses again, is also a betrayal of those who can’t even aspire to step onto the first rung of the home ownership ladder.
Allowing houses and blocks of flats to be increased in height, would seem to offer little opportunity to deliver a meaningful increase in additional housing units. It will however do exactly that for the bank balances of those who own suitable properties in high demand areas. Although, it might suit a single, unattached person, is the newly added top floor, plonked on top of an outdated housing block, really the first home a young couple aspires to?
Copied from Sunday Telegraph 11 November 2017
Hammond considers ‘build up, not out’ planning proposal
Budget measure may allow developers to raise height of homes without needing permission
By Edward Malnick, Whitehall Editor
DEVELOPERS and homeowners would be allowed to extend the height of properties without planning permission, under plans being considered for the Budget by the Chancellor.
Philip Hammond is weighing up proposals to relax planning laws to enable houses and blocks of flats to be raised to the height of the tallest building or tree in the same area without the cost or delay of seeking council approval.
The “build up, not out” plan, which is backed by several former ministers, together with David Cameron’s ex-policy chief, is being pushed by MPs as a way to help solve the housing crisis without building on greenfield land.
It mirrors similar proposals originally made by Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, and George Osborne, Mr Hammond’s predecessor, for homes in London, and offers a solution to an impasse between the Treasury and No 10 over proposals by the Chancellor to relax rules restricting construction on the green belt. A housing White Paper published by Mr Javid in February proposed to “offer scope to extend buildings upwards in urban areas by making good use of the ‘airspace’ above them”.
The plan now being considered by Mr Hammond would involve extending the “permitted development” scheme under which Parliament grants a general planning permission for certain types of work, meaning specific approval is not required from local authorities each time.
Under Mr Cameron, permitted development rights were created to make it easier to convert buildings from one use into another and extend existing homes.
The plan to extend those rights to those seeking to build upwards are understood to have been put forward to Mr Hammond last month by John Penrose, a former heritage minister, and have since drawn support from MPs including Nick Boles, the former planning minister, Mark Prisk, a former housing minister, and Sir Oliver Letwin, who was David Cameron’s head of policy.
The proposals would mean that an owner could extend the height of their building to match that of the tallest building in its “block”, in urban areas, or to the height of mature local trees. MPs supporting the plan say that the restrictions would ensure that the policy simply led to higher mansion blocks, terraces and mews housing, rather than skyscrapers and giant tower blocks.
They point out that some of the most expensive and attractive areas of London are full of four or five-storey terraces, compared to single, double, or triple storey buildings elsewhere.
Mr Penrose said the move would help regenerate “tired or run-down” town and city centres, and head off the pressure from developers to build on greenfield sites.
“This will unlock huge numbers of new urban housebuilding sites and create mansion blocks, Georgian terraces and mews houses rather than controversial sky-high tower blocks.”
Mr Boles is to outline a similar proposal tomorrow in the latest chapter of his book setting out proposals to improve the economy.
“It is very good way of assuring people that we’re doing our damnedest to make use of already developed land,” he said. Sir Oliver said: “There’s quite a lot of evidence now that the steps we took a while back to create permitted development for those trying to switch use from commercial to residential use have proved effective in enlarging the number of homes available and improving high streets which were languishing. This seems to me to be an extension of that same thought.
“There is quite a lot of land in the country that is occupied by very low-rise dwellings where it would make it aesthetically quite uncontroversial to raise the height up to the level of the adjoining buildings or trees around them.”