Housebuilders will no longer have to build affordable homes on some stalled sites if they can prove they would be commercially unviable, under new government plans to ease planning restrictions and boost the economy.
The plans– due to be announced by the prime minister and deputy prime minister on Thursday – could help get work started on 75,000 homes on sites currently abandoned because they are not deemed profitable.
David Cameron, the prime minister, said some of the measures were “controversial” but they provide a “comprehensive plan to unleash one of the biggest homebuilding programmes this country has seen in a generation”.
Nick Clegg, his deputy, insisted the proposals would lead to more affordable homes, not fewer, as the government will inject new funding of £300m to build up to 15,000 affordable homes and bring 5,000 empty ones back into use.
“We’re not building enough affordable homes and we’ve got to build more,” he told the BBC’s Today programme. “Our calculation is that there will be some sites that will proceed without building affordable homes. But the £300m will more than make up for that.”
Mr Clegg said the money was on top of £4.5bn already set aside to meet the government’s target of 170,000 homes by the end of the parliament, as well as £280m to help first-time buyers.
Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg will also announce plans for legislation for government guarantees of up to £40bn for major infrastructure projects and £10bn for new homes, guaranteeing the debt of housing associations and private developers.
Overall, the plans hope to deliver up to 70,000 new homes, 140,000 jobs and a boost to the construction sector.
The government will also temporarily lift planning rules to allow loft conversions and extensions of shops and business premises without applying for planning permission. The populist policy is intended to jolt the construction sector and inject immediate demand into the economy.
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