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British PM unveils plans to build 300,000 homes a year

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-03-05 22:55

LONDON - An overhaul of Britain's planning laws to enable 300,000 homes to be built a year was announced Monday by British Prime Minister Theresa May.

The reforms will place a greater emphasis on converting planning permissions into homes. In what is the first major overhaul of planning policy for six years, the changes will provide a comprehensive approach for planners, developers and councils to build more homes.

Announcing the shake-up, May said that tearing up the protected green belts of Britain is not the answer to Britain's housing crisis and that existing projections will be maintained and, in some cases, strengthened.

The protection of green spaces is considered a hot topic, particularly in some of the traditionally Conservative shire county areas.

May told delegates at the national planning conference that home ownership in Britain was largely unaffordable to those without the support of the so-called "the bank of mum and dad," a reference to children relying on financial help from parents to climb onto the property ladder.

"Young people without family wealth are right to be angry at not being able to buy a home," May said.

Councils and developers will be required to work with community groups to ensure those affected by new developments will have a say.

More freedom will be given to town and city councils to make the most of existing land to build homes that maximize density.

Redundant land will be encouraged such as underutilized retail or industrial space for homes, with more flexibility given to extend upwards on existing blocks of flats and houses as well as shops and offices.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said: "An entire generation is being locked out of a broken housing market as prices and rents race ahead of supply. Reforming the planning system is the crucial next step to building the homes the country needs."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing said: "The government has already delivered more than a million homes since 2010, and last year saw the biggest increase in housing supply in England, over 217,000 new homes -- for almost a decade."

John Healey, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, said: "This policy shows again that ministers have no proper plan to fix the housing crisis. Eight years of failure on housing is the fault of Whitehall, not town halls."

"Since 2010, home-ownership has fallen to a 30-year low, rough sleeping has more than doubled, and the number of new homes being built still hasn't recovered to pre-recession levels."

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