While the recent reduction in available mortgage interest tax relief for higher rate taxpayers investing in buy to let property caused anger within the UK real estate sector, a change to brownfield site planning permission regulations has gone down relatively well. It is common knowledge that the UK is struggling to build enough properties to accommodate the population which is pushing house prices way beyond the reach of first-time buyers.
So, what has the UK government decided with regards to brownfield sites and future planning permission regulations?
Automatic planning permission in England
In a significant move the UK government announced that developers could in the future receive automatic planning permission to build on disused industrial sites in England. Commonly referred to as “brownfield” sites these are areas of land which are in theory perfect for development but often housed derelict buildings or have remained unused for some time.
It is unclear exactly how this proposed new regulatory system will be introduced but some critics are already suggesting that “national” planning regulations would effectively take away much power from local authorities. It is also believed that the government is looking to create powers to seize disused land which is also causing headlines.
Is it morally right to seize unused land?
Depending upon whether you are a supporter of developing on brownfield sites or you are critical of such an aggressive regulatory tactic, it is debatable as to whether the government should have the right to seize disused land. What if this land has been bought as an investment for the future? What if there are financial implications for the owner? The idea of seizing land and then allowing planning permission for new housing developments may appeal to many people but could this be the thin end of the wedge?
So far there has been no talk of any financial compensation for those who may potentially have their unused land seized by the authorities. There will no doubt be an array of legal challenges from wealthy individuals who have stockpiled land in years gone by as an investment for the future. This particular element of the proposed changes is very controversial and will attract an array of different opinions!
London property market
London is one of the more crowded real estate markets in the world and there are currently some very strict planning regulations across the various local authorities. Interestingly, the Conservative government intends to relax the rules on extensions on London properties which would allow the expansion of existing houses with minimal fuss. It is difficult to judge how this particular issue will pan out because in many areas of London there is little or no room for expansion as it is.
The UK government seems to be drip feeding an array of proposed changes to the UK property sector both from a tax point of view and planning permission regulations. It will be interesting to see the details of these proposed changes because as ever the devil is always in the detail. Where politicians are involved things can look very different when you dig below the surface!