PM Announces “New Deal” In Wake Of Pandemic

Yesterday the UK waited to see what Prime Minister Boris Johnson would announce in his speech which he made from Dudley, yesterday 30 June 2020.

Detailing how the UK will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, the PM pledged to “build, build, build” to help the economy recover following a long period of stagnation.

His speech has been compared to that of former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt who outlined a ‘new deal’ in the shape of policies and reforms to help the US recover from the Great Depression in 1933-1939.

The PM said:

“We are preparing now slowly and cautiously to come out of hibernation and I believe it is absolutely vital for us now to set out the way ahead.

“So that everyone can think and plan for the future – short, medium and long term because if the covid crisis has taught us one thing it is that this country needs to be ready for what may be coming and we need to be able to move with levels of energy and speed that we have not needed for generations.”

One of the ways in which the PM has said the nation can ‘build’ on, is on planning rules.

Reforms haven’t been made to this area of building since WWII, so it is hoped the changes will be welcomed by many.

The changes which are due to come into force in September include:

  • New rules enabling property owners to build extensions more easily using fast track approval process. However, they will need approval from their neighbours for this
  • Existing commercial properties like newly vacant shops will be converted into residential housing easier
  • Developers will be able to demolish and rebuild redundant buildings without going through the normal planning application process

The PM added:

“We will build fantastic new homes on brownfield sites and other areas that with better transport and other infrastructure could frankly be suitable and right for development, and we will address that intergenerational injustice and help young people get on the housing ladder in the way that their parents and grandparents could.”

The announcement has indeed stirred the sector, with mixed reactions from various industries.

Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark said:

“Propertymark welcomes the Prime Minister’s ambition to bounce back as we enter the new phase of this pandemic. It is important that as we try to reboot the economy we build a greater supply of affordable houses that can rejuvenate urban areas most affected by this crisis. Simplification of the planning process will ease the pressures caused on the supply of homes and ensure the property market drives the UK’s economic recovery. We look forward to working with government during its White Paper process later this month to ensure the system has less red tape and is easier to navigate.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said:

“While, of course, the announcement of more building is very welcome we want to see more specifics, not just on desperately-needed affordable housing projects but a strict timetable for delivery, especially of sites with planning.

“So many of the larger schemes in particular are mired in planning or lending red tape so certainly the concentration on infrastructure will help to release many from that log jam by improving connectivity.”

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has welcomed the commitment to creating jobs, skills and infrastructure as the Government looks to build the UK back to economic health in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.

But the trade body says that a full programme of national renewal must also promote better housing, both in terms of building new homes and upgrading existing ones.

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the BMF, which represents the multi-billion pound building industry supply chain.

He said:

“It is great to see the Prime Minister responding to the Covid-19 crisis by promising to build back greener and better.

“We also welcome the fact that he understands the very real need to get the millions of people working in construction and building trades, including apprentices, back to work.

“Reforming the planning system is long overdue and changes that speed up the system and enable redundant buildings to become new homes are certainly welcome.

“Our ask of the PM is to help SME builders and allied trades to return to the market and do what they do best. Build small numbers of homes in many locations, which are in keeping with their surroundings and that people want to buy.

“In tandem with that, we also need to undertake the repair, maintenance and improvement work that many UK homes still desperately need, to ensure they provide warm and secure accommodation.”

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