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Planning rules relaxation to be announced

An ‘emergency’ year-long relaxation of planning rules is to be introduced to boost development, the Prime Minister David Cameron is to announce today.

The proposals will double the amount of space homeowners and businesses can build in, although restrictions will still apply in conservation areas. The rules will apply to lofts and garages and the move will be subject to a month-long consultation.

There will also be a temporary removal on the requirement for developers to include affordable housing so long as the planned housing is for rent rather than sale. The ideas spring from Sir Adrian Montague’s report, who was commissioned to find ways of encouraging investment. The Government is promising to spend £300m to ensure the net effect of the scheme is more, not less, affordable housing.

Cameron is expected to announce up to £500m found in underspend from other departments and 16,500 first-time buyers are to receive help getting on the housing ladder under an extension of the FirstBuy scheme. Those wishing to buy but without a deposit will be given an equity loan of up to 20% of the purchase price.

The new Permitted Development Rights will make it easier to install conservatories and loft extensions without weeks of bureaucracy.

Cameron will claim: “This government means business in delivering plans to help people build new homes and kick-start the economy.

“We’re determined to cut through the bureaucracy that holds us back. That starts with getting the planners off our backs. Getting behind the businesses that have the ambition to expand, and meeting the aspirations of families that want to buy or improve a home.”

But Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns, Andrew Pendleton, warned the Government against tearing up planning laws. “The planning system shouldn't be blamed for the current housing shortage – developers already have permission to build thousands of homes, but are unlikely to do so until the economy improves.”

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