New laws laid in Parliament yesterday will allow unused buildings to be demolished and rebuilt as homes without full planning applications.
The new rules, which will come into effect by September, are designed to deliver much-needed new homes and revitalise town centres across England, by allowing commercial and retail properties to be quickly repurposed.
It aims to help high streets and town centres to provide more space for new businesses and to adapt quickly to what consumers and businesses need.
Homeowners will also be able to add up to two additional storeys to their home to create new homes or more living space for growing families through a fast track approval process, with a requirement to carefully consider the impact on neighbours and the appearance of the extension.
The government will set out plans to reform England’s 70-year-old planning system later this month.
“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,” said Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
“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.”
Pubs, libraries, village shops and other buildings essential to communities will not be covered by the flexibilities.
Last week the government announced changes to ensure theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues are saved for future generations.
Councils will need to take the temporary impact of coronavirus into account when considering permission for change of use, redevelopment or demolition of these buildings, and this will not change due to the new laws.