What does the property industry think of the new planning proposals?

New plans to invest in construction, building houses and relaxing planning laws meets a mixed response

The new housing and planning package aims to deliver up to 70,000 new homes, offer new opportunities for first time buyers, and make it easier to make some home improvements. The hope is to create around 140,000 new jobs.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of Your Move and Reeds Rains, commented: “The housing sector welcomes much needed change as the new housing minister steps into the limelight. The key issues hampering first time buyers are deposit affordability and the lack of housing stock at appropriate prices. The Government’s announcement of a £280m extension of its shared equity scheme First Buy is therefore extremely encouraging. And the plan for an increased new homebuilding programme is music to our ears.

"But we need the cooperation and support of mortgage lenders if these measures are going to kick-start the housing market.  Appropriate credit needs to be available to first-time buyers and the wider market generally and the Government should ensure they take suitable steps to ensure this happens.”

However, Jonathan Haward, chairman of County Homesearch said allowing extensions and conservatories to be built without planning permission would not boost the construction industry nor would it get the economy moving. Indeed, he argued that allowing unchecked extensions could even detract from the value of neighbour’s property if it’s of a low standard, ugly or not in keeping with the existing property.

"The coalition is just tinkering and while this may give a boost to local house builders it will do nothing significant to improve the wider economy or the housing market," he said. "More radical moves are needed to get people to move. Many homeowners are locked in their homes because capital growth has been insignificant and they still do not have the funds to move up a rung."

Jamie Lester, Head of Haus Properties, added: “Whilst the planning changes sound like good news on one hand by helping to create jobs and housing, my concern is that if people don’t have access to funding to buy or improve their homes, the initiatives are as good as useless!  I personally have planning permission to extend my home, but my lender is making my life hell in order to release a little equity, even though my property has £200,000 of equity in it. With a growing family, this leaves me stuck in a rut!

“Although relaxing red tape is also welcomed, the changes to allow people to extend their properties up to 6m or 8m without planning permission are a concern, especially in urban areas. This could cause neighbourly issues with other people’s light and enjoyment of their own properties affected. And what will happen when the rules change again after a year? Obviously, the devil will be in the detail, but I do think it will lead to a lot of confusion and some serious disputes!”

A more positive response came from Shelter’s Chief Executive Campbell Robb who said: "This package of measures is an important step towards delivering the homes we need, not only to provide a vital and urgent boost to the economy but to address this country’s housing shortage that’s affecting millions of lives.

"It’s absolutely crucial for the many families and young people struggling with high housing costs or trying desperately to get on the housing ladder, that the Government delivers on its guarantee that these proposals will see more affordable homes built."

Philip Selway, Managing Partner of The Buying Solution, said: “I think that most people will be pleased to see changes that will cut down on the planning process, although for London in particular, it maybe that the new relaxed planning rules will see garden/outside space more easily lost to kitchen or playroom extensions, for example.  This could also, I suppose, lead to an increase in disputes between neighbours due to the noise, building work, parking suspensions and general inconvenience caused.

“For the prime country market it may be a slightly different story as, for many, Listed building consent will still be required to extend although the main effect perhaps, will be a further shrinking of the property market. The planning changes could easily encourage those who are planning to move purely to acquire additional space for growing families, may well chose to renovate and extend their homes instead. More than understandable certainly but the knock-on effect will mean that even fewer houses will be brought to the market”.

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