How Are UK Planning Laws Changing?

Coming into effect this September, the UK has seen changes to its planning laws. These changes are designed to revitalise housing and planning post Covid.

Thanks to these new changes, full planning applications will not be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings. This means that unused buildings can more quickly become homes and commercial and retail properties, repurposing old buildings to revive high streets and town centres.

Property investor Rex Ekaireb Commented on these changes: “UK planning laws are in many cases quite outdated, having been designed for different times. It is therefore reassuring to see the sector moving with the times on this with changes.”

Rex Ekaireb continued saying: “With the UK high street changing for millions of people across the country, planning law changes may well open up opportunities for living as well as additional construction jobs in and around UK high streets which could be a well-times boost to the sector.”

These changes to planning laws are designed to support the UK high street in adapting to consumers’ and businesses’ new needs. Lockdown meant even more of us turned to shopping online, this change has meant an acceleration in the decay of the UK high street.

Many of us are now only visiting our local high street for services; things we can’t get online like haircuts or cafes, rather than for retail purposes. In order to adapt to the new needs of consumers, the government planning laws are designed to support new businesses and support existing businesses in adapting what they can offer.

Homeowners will also be able to add up to 2 additional storeys to their home to create new homes in some circumstances; more living space or room for remote working. A fast track approval process is allowing these changes to happen even more quickly than before, although homeowners are required to carefully consider the impact on neighbours and the appearance of the extension.

Rex Ekaireb said of these changes: “Although this won’t necessarily apply to all areas across the country, for the right areas, and designs allowing, adding additional storeys could be a huge help with regards to the UK’s housing shortage.”

Ekaireb continued: “So long as the properties that are subject to these changes are able to structurally support the additional storeys, these planning changes for many, will feel like a breath of fresh air, injecting much-needed impetus to the sector at a critical time.”

The government is also expected to set out plans to reform England’s 7-decade old planning system to deliver more high-quality, well-designed homes, and beautiful and greener communities for people to live in. The aim is to protect high standards while cutting out bureaucracy, to encourage renovation and adaptation for housing and commercial properties in the UK. Developers will still need to adhere to building regulations.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP said: “We are reforming the planning system and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy to give small business owners the freedom they need to adapt and evolve, and to renew our town centres with new enterprises and more housing.”

These new planning rules have also come amid some controversy after a speech made by Boris Johnson. The PM seemed to be baiting green activists and conservationists, when he said the reason the UK was slower to build than other countries was that “time is money, and the newt-counting delays in our system are a massive drag on the productivity and the prosperity of this country.”

However, this statement seems to have detracted from what is a very important and exciting development in UK planning laws. Allowing changes and developments to be made more easily to buildings in the UK is not only likely to boost our economy, but will allow the UK to adapt to life out of lockdown.

Interestingly, these changes also help change the dynamic in some cases with regards to the properties people own. For example, in cases where people may have resorted to equity release (more information about equity release), being able to add additional storeys to this extent may allow them to convert an additional storey to rent out for the income they may otherwise have acquired from equity release. Whether you’re a homeowner looking to extend your property, considering a new space for remote working or a small business owner looking to adapt to a changing economy, these changes in the UK planning law will make renovation and adaptation easier for everyone.