Planning Law Changes to Radically Revitalise Town Centres

22nd July 2020

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced new laws on the 21st  July, which come into force in September, with the aim to promote a radical change of use on the high-street.

Changes include the abolition of full planning applications to demolish and rebuild unused buildings,  so that town centres can adapt to what customers and businesses need.

Homeowners will also be able to add up to two additional storeys to their home, to create new properties or more living space, through a fast track approval process.

Pubs, libraries, village shops and other buildings essential to communities will be exempt to some extent.

Robert Jenrick said:

“We are reforming the planning system and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy to give small business owners the freedom they need to adapt and evolve, and to renew our town centres with new enterprises and more housing. These changes will help transform boarded up, unused buildings safely into high quality homes at the heart of their communities. It will mean that families can add up to two storeys to their home, providing much needed additional space for children or elderly relatives as their household grows.”

A report by the think-tank, the Social Market Foundation (SMF), entitled, A New Life for the High Street, suggests that 5% of commercial land could be released for development, allowing at least 800,000 homes to be built. Empty shops could be converted to homes or be demolished in favour of modern apartments. There is also the view that less demand would be required for green field housing development.

The SMF reports author, Scott Corfe stated;

“Trying to prop up high street retailers facing long-term decline is not an act of kindness to workers or towns. It just postpones the inevitable and wastes opportunities to develop new policies to help workers and towns embrace the future.”

He added;

“Nothing can stop the demise of traditional high street shopping so it would be better for politicians to support the next chapter in the story of the high street, with hundreds of thousands of new homes that bring new life to our urban centres.”

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