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Michael Gove to overhaul planning laws to help young people onto property ladder

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Published Time: 12.02.2024 - 00:40:19 Modified Time: 12.02.2024 - 00:40:19

New rules scrap size and time limit on turning office blocks into homes and pressure councils to build in brownfield sites iStockphoto/Fizkes Michael Gove is to change the law to enable office blocks to be turned into homes for young people trying to get onto the property ladder

New rules scrap size and time limit on turning office blocks into homes and pressure councils to build in brownfield sites

: iStockphoto/Fizkes

Michael Gove is to change the law to enable office blocks to be turned into homes for young people trying to get onto the property ladder.

The Housing Secretary will announce an overhaul of planning rules on Tuesday to make it easier for developers to convert all commercial buildings into flats and force councils to build more houses in town and city centres if they fail to meet their targets.

In an attempt to kickstart the construction of more homes, Mr Gove will scrap the size and time limits on turning office blocks into homes for residential use and order failing councils to build more houses in brownfield sites.

The move comes amid growing alarm at the slump in the Tory party’s support among young people and millennial parents, fuelled largely by the struggle to buy or rent affordable housing.

Polling figures at the weekend showed support for the Tories among voters aged 25 to 49 had slumped from 25 per cent when the party came to power in 2010 to 10 per cent now.

At the weekend Mr Gove warned that young people shut out of the UK’s housing market could spurn democracy and turn to authoritarianism. 

“If people think that markets are rigged and a democracy isn’t listening to them, then you get – and this is the worrying thing to me – an increasing number of young people saying, ‘I don’t believe in democracy, I don’t believe in markets,” he said.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Gove said the Government’s target was still “absolutely, totally, 100 per cent” to build 300,000 new homes a year even if it was an “advisory” commitment rather than “mandatory.”

The current time limit of three months before office blocks can be turned into homes will be scrapped allowing councils to give the green light to developers as soon as they become vacant. 

The Government will also allow office blocks of any size to be converted to flats without new planning permission by axing the current limit of 1,500 square metres, which is equivalent to the size of an 11-a-side football pitch.

“For the first time commercial buildings, no matter what size, will be eligible under the permitted development rights scheme,” said a Government source. The scheme enables householders to improve and extend their homes without the need to apply for planning permission.

Councils falling below 75 per cent of their target to build homes will be placed under a presumption that they must be constructed on brownfield sites in towns and cities.

The aim of the strategy is to ensure new housing is focused on already built-up areas to limit development sprawling out to the outskirts of villages or the green belt.

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