‘Homes England chair calls for more homebuilding on green belt’


The Guardian reports that the chair of Natural England has argued that more homes should be built on the green belt in order to help solve the country’s housing crisis. It explains that Tony Juniper believes that building new homes on the green belt does not have to be to the detriment of green spaces and wildlife if the quality of urban green spaces is improved. It adds that Juniper says protecting the natural world and building new houses should not be “binary choices”, quoting him as saying: “What we need to be doing is thinking more about how we can accommodate high quality nature within and around residential developments.”

The Times reveals that a former donor to the Conservative Party is urging the government to adopt Labour’s policy on reforming the planning system. In an article in the newspaper, businessman Sir James Wates writes that the Tories should “match the opposition’s commitments” to reform, which he says “have been welcomed by many across the business community”. It adds that this week the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, is due to announce a policy to reduce delays to projects resulting from planning objections, as part of his autumn statement.

City AM writes that the chief executive of British Land has argued that failure to overhaul the country’s planning system will harm the UK’s international standing in the life sciences sector. Writing for the newspaper, Simon Carter claims that “there should be no limit to our ambitions for the UK life sciences sector, but it needs more room to innovate and grow”. He says 11.6 million square feet of laboratory space is awaiting a planning decision or is “in the pipeline”, adding that as well as lack of incentives for investment in the sector, the UK’s planning regime “adds complexity and delays much needed development”.

The Times reports that shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves is to announce the creation of a British infrastructure council, with Labour hosting the first meeting with Lloyds, Santander, HSBC, Fidelity and Phoenix. It explains that the council would have an advisory role to the chancellor if Labour were to win the next general election. It adds that the move is part of Labour’s attempt to be “the party of business”, and that Reeves argues investment in “new buildings” is among businesses’ priorities for growth.

The Guardian reveals that there are nearly 32,000 unlicensed large houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the UK, which are home to around 160,000 people. It says the figures come from council data, with Southend-on-Sea City Council, for example, stating that it believes there has been an increase in the number of HMOs locally, and its enforcement officers are trying to ensure they have planning permission and meet housing standards. The article states that many of the unlicensed homes nationally are below standard with sometimes a family living in a single room with no private kitchen or bathroom.

The Financial Times writes that chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to use his autumn statement this week to outline a plan to devolve powers to England’s elected mayors. It explains that under the plans, while more financial autonomy would be given to the mayors of the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, metro mayors, such as in Tees Valley, would gain greater powers in areas including housing.

The Standard states that London mayor Sadiq Khan is seeking government funding to help it support the building of 76,000 homes on brownfield land in the capital. It adds that City Hall is calling for £470 million in order to pave the way for the construction of new residential property on disused land across London. It explains that the money would be spent on transport infrastructure and site preparation.

On the same subject as Khan, The Telegraph reports that developers claim the London mayor’s planning regulations are contributing to the housing crisis. It says the number of homes beginning construction in the city has fallen this year, and cites property experts claiming that Khan is putting too much focus on “affordable” housing to the detriment of building more regular schemes.

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