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Government plans to overhaul the planning system will see developers encouraged to build on brownfield sites, convert disused buildings into homes and build around train stations.

Robert Jenrick, MP and the Housing Secretary, outlined his proposals ahead of the publication of a government white paper on planning expected later this year.

The Housing Secretary wants to see empty shops on the high street replaced with housing.  He aims to speed up the planning system to allow developers to demolish vacant commercial, industrial and residential buildings and replace them with homes.

The government will also publish a register of brownfield sites to map out unused land, backed by £400 million of state funding to help bring the land back into use.

Local authorities will be expected to update their Local Plans by December 2023, or face government intervention.  The government believes this will enable enough homes to be built for local communities.

Robert Jenrick said: “We must think boldly and creatively about the planning system to make it fit for the future, and this is just the first step, so we can deliver the homes communities need and help more young people onto the ladder.”

The plans have been welcomed by figures in the industry.  Randeesh Sandhu, chief executive of Urban Exposure, told Today’s Conveyancer: “We’re really pleased there’s been a focus on innovating the planning process and cash committed to bringing brownfield sites forward for development.”

But opposition figures are concerned about the plans to reduce the amount of planning oversight.  Shadow housing minister John Healey told the Financial Times that it could lead to “unsuitable buildings turned into slum housing with no planning permission at all.”

James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions says that reforming the planning system could reduce the amount of time it takes developers to get on site.  “Construction professionals will need to make sure that they fully understand and comply with the new regulations to capture the opportunities and minimise the risks that the changes will brings,” he said.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s press release announcing the plans has been published on the government’s website. News reports about the plans have been published by the Financial Times, Todays Conveyancer and Mortgage Finance Gazette.

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