Johnson 'set to ease green belt rules in new year planning changes'

News that a series of changes to the planning system, including easing green belt development around train stations and allowing upwards extensions without the need for planning permission, will be revealed in the new year features in today's newspaper round-up.

Boris Johnson is set to "turbocharge home building" with a series of "planning reforms" in the new year, The Sun reported last week. Top of the list will be "allowing developers and homeowners to build upwards, adding up to two extra storeys on homes and blocks of flats without necessarily needing approval", according to the newspaper. Other planning changes that ministers want include "building on green belt areas where there are already developments, such as around railway stations" plus the introduction of rebates where "applicants will get their fees repaid in full if local authorities don’t meet tight deadlines". Ministers also "want to scrap a regulation that forces builders to apply for permission if they want to demolish a commercial property and replace it with homes", the article goes on to say.

The Daily Telegraph reports that newly-elected Tory MPs in the north of England "have been given a hotline to a cabinet minister to help them deliver local spending projects for their constituents". Jake Berry, the Northern Powerhouse minister, is compiling a "golden book" of government commitments for northern seats to ensure that election pledges are delivered on, the article says. According to the newspaper, Berry, who sits in both the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, has "started to coordinate requests from MPs for help in their constituencies, and is using his cross-government position to push departments to deliver projects in northern seats". He is "already fielding requests for a relief road and local station capacity in Leigh, Greater Manchester, while a request has come to consider HS2 connectivity in Warrington, Cheshire", the Telegraph adds.

The Guardian reports that north of England political leaders have warned the Prime Minister to fix the regions' flood defences immediately. Boris Johnson is "facing demands to overhaul the system for deciding where flood-defence funding is spent and to launch an emergency response unit to protect communities from further 'catastrophic' damage", the newspaper says. As nearly 100 flood warnings were announced across much of England on Sunday, according to the article, "regional leaders from the north, where many communities were hit by November foods, called for protection to receive higher priority". It reports that Dan Jarvis, the elected Labour mayor for the Sheffield city region, "called on the government to establish a "Cobra for the north" that would be chaired by a cabinet minister and kick into action as soon as floods hit the region".

The Times reports that the Conservative election victory "will lift house prices in cities, with average prices in northern areas expected to rise by up to four per cent next year". Zoopla’s house price index, which covers 20 cities, is forecasting 3 per cent growth and said the highest rises would be in areas where the ratio of house prices to earnings was low. The most expensive parts of the country, such as London, Oxford and Cambridge, are expected to grow at a more subdued rate. 

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