Budget measures 'will rewrite planning rules to reinvigorate town centres'

Speculation on the contents of today's Budget, including reports that it will include measures to 'rewrite planning rules to reinvigorate town centres' and measures to 'capture more of the increase in the value of land after planning permission is granted', feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Financial Times (subscription) reports that the chancellor "wants to rewrite planning rules to reinvigorate town centres, with changes allowing more shops to be converted into homes and leisure facilities". It adds that, "on big housing developments, he wants to capture more of the increase in the value of land after planning permission is granted, to help finance the construction of social homes and local infrastructure".

A separate article in the FT says that the aim of the town centre proposals "would be to create more concentrated shopping areas in towns, while shops on the periphery could be turned more easily into office space and apartments as an alternative way of bringing life back to town centres".

The Times (subscription) reports that "shop premises are taking longer than ever to relet in a further blow to the already struggling high street". The paper says that, according to data service Radius Data Exchange "only 1.89 per cent of empty shops are relet within three months as continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit combines with turbulent retail trading conditions. This is more than three times as long as before the Brexit referendum".

The Times reports that "ministers will attempt to burnish their green credentials in the budget by announcing a £60 million plan to plant more trees across the country". The paper says that "under the scheme £10 million will be set aside for councils and charities to increase greenery on streets and in other urban areas".

The Times also reports that "one of Britain’s biggest listed property companies is drawing up plans to build flats above and around its shopping centres in an attempt to counteract the pressure on retail property valuations". The paper says that "Landsec, which owns Trinity Leeds and Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, is working on a rental housing strategy to see how it can increase the income at its 16 shopping centres around the country with an initial focus on its London sites".

The Guardian reports that "the number of households being moved out of London by councils has increased dramatically, rising by almost 50 per cent in the first half of this year as town hall leaders blame rising homelessness, tightening public finances and a chronic lack of new cheap homes in the capital". The paper says that "councils have sent homeless households as far away as Glasgow, Newcastle and Cardiff in the last year, according to figures collected by local authorities". It adds that "740 households have been relocated to Kent, 574 to Essex, 30 to the West Midlands and 69 to Surrey".

The Times reports that "some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley are aiming to do to small builders what they have already done to high street retailers". The paper says that "prompted by rapidly rising rents in San Francisco, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has embraced pre-fabricated housing, paying about £23 million to accommodate 300 employees in what may be the start of a homebuilding revolution. By using factory-built components, it believes that it can cut costs by 20 per cent and build 40 per cent faster."

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