Projects to build up to 45,000 new homes are to get the green light as part of the latest round of investment from Boris Johnson’s promised “New Deal” ahead of a radical planning shake-up expected this week.
The Treasury is to allocate £900m from funds announced in Rishi Sunak’s budget to more than 300 so-called “shovel ready” schemes, which include the homes, new commercial space and infrastructure projects such as a high-speed rail station in Kent.
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, said the investment would be “laying the foundations for a green economic recovery”.
Jenrick and the prime minister have promised major changes to planning laws in England, to be formally announced in the coming days, under which new homes and hospitals could be granted automatic planning permission to speed up building.
Under the plans, local councils will be asked to designate land either as “growth”, “renewal” or “protection”. New developments will be granted automatic permission on “growth” land and “renewal” areas will see developments given “permission in principle” subject to some checks. Only areas given the “protection” status, including the greenbelt, will not have automatic building rights.
The forthcoming reforms have led to warnings from housing charities about the potential risk of low-quality homes.
The government has also confirmed a £360m investment in Mayoral Combined Authority areas such as Greater Manchester and the West Midlands to build 26,000 more homes while protecting greenfield sites, with a further £8m earmarked to speed up the delivery of these new homes on brownfield sites.
The business and energy department also detailed its plans to fund up to two-thirds of the costs of green home improvements for more than 600,000 homes.
Tradespeople must register for TrustMark accreditation for improvements from wall insulation, floors and roofs to the installation of low-carbon heating. Households on low income can receive vouchers covering 100% of the cost of the improvements, up to a maximum of £10,000.
The investment is part of the £5bn New Deal spending announced in June, part of the £600bn-plus Sunak allocated in his March budget for capital projects over the next five years.