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George Osborne unveils new planning reforms to boost housebuilding

The chancellor has unveiled a series of planning reforms and state investment to boost housebuilding in the UK.

Central to the reforms were plans to deliver 200,000 new homes by releasing more brownfield land in London and the rest of the UK.

In his annual Mansion House speech on Thursday, George Osborne said: “If we want to limit development on important green spaces, we have to remove all the obstacles that remain to development on brownfield sites.”

Councils will now be required to put local development orders on over 90 per cent of brownfield sites that are suitable for housing by 2020, he said.

The Treasury will create a £5m fund to help create the first 100 LDOs.

This “urban planning revolution” would create planning permissions for up to 200,000 new homes.

LDOs are made by local planning authorities and grant planning permission to specific types of development within a defined area.

London mayor Boris Johnson and Mr Osborne are also expected to announce plans today for new housing zones in the capital.

Local authorities will be expected to identify and package together brownfield land, which could be used for new housing zones and remove all “unnecessary planning restrictions”, Mr Osborne and Mr Johnson will say.

The local authority will then partner with a developer to build out the site.

The chancellor will back the move in London with £200m of Treasury funding, which will be matched by City Hall. and will extend it to other areas of Britain.

Ahead of today’s announcement, Mr Osborne said: “We’ll take the same approach in the rest of the country, with almost half a billion pounds of financial assistance in total set aside to make [housing zones] work.”

KPMG head of housing Jan Crosby said the measures had the “potential to be transformative, kickstarting development on brownfield sites”.

But he added that brownfield development was “not the sole answer” to the housing crisis and that planning should continue to deliver homes in areas where people wanted to live.

Help to Buy

The chancellor once again backed the government’s Help to Buy scheme, saying it was “working as intended”.

Mr Osborne plans to give the Bank of England new powers over mortgages, including capping the size of mortgage loans to avoid a housing bubble.

He added: “If the Bank of England does act in future to limit mortgage lending then the same rules will be applied to every single Help to Buy mortgage.”

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