Announcement comes as government data shows permission for 25,000 homes have expired in lockdown so far
Planning permissions for 430 housing schemes set to deliver around 25,000 homes which have expired since the start of lockdown are to be given a new lease of life by the government, it announced today.
The government today said it is finally set to act on consistent calls by developers and planners to extend planning permissions set to expire during lockdown in order to aid the industry’s recovery.
A statement from the housing ministry said that sites with consent that have an expiry date between the start of lockdown and the end of this year will now see their consent extended to 1 April 2021.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick MP said the change would be brought in alongside previously-trailed measures to speed up the planning appeals process.
He said: “New laws will enable us to speed up the pace of planning appeals and save hundreds of construction sites from being cancelled before they have a chance to get spades in the ground, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs and create many others.
“Taken together, these measures will help to keep workers safe and our economy moving as we work together to bounce back from the pandemic.”
The announcement came as the ministry published a set of one-off figures showing that between the date lockdown was announced on March 23 and the end of June, permission for 430 residential schemes were set to expire. The figures, based on data from Glenigan, show that the permissions were for schemes scheduled to deliver 24,800 homes.
Both local authority and developer groups have been lobbying for the government to extend planning permissions in England in order to stop schemes delayed due to covid restrictions from suffering the delay and expense of a new planning application before commencing work. The Scottish government introduced a similar measure before parliament was closed prior to lockdown, but the UK government has thus far been silent on whether it expects to do the same in England.
The ministry did not say how it will enact the change, but lawyers have previously argued that extending the duration of planning permissions, which have a three-year standard length, will require primary legislation.
The announcement is likely to come in advance of a more wide-ranging reform of the planning system, expected next month. Jenrick said earlier this month that it was time to rethink the planning system from “first principles”, amid speculation of a massive expansion in permitted development and a move towards a US-style “zonal” planning system.
Andrew Whitaker, director of planning at the Home Builders’ Federation said the decision was “good news for everyone.” He said: “The whole industry since lockdown has been on a go-slow, so by extending planning permissions we can avoid having to repeat a whole load of work both by developers and more importantly local authorities to reinstate permission which had been agreed anyway.”