Green belt land is to be freed up for development under changes to the planning rules designed to boost the UK’s economy, Chancellor George Osborne said yesterday.
The scheme, under which councils would have to bring land of the same area into the green belt, was announced as Mr Osborne warned that the country could not afford to wait years for new development at a time when the economy was struggling. He said that while the economy was “healing”, there was no easy route to a “magical recovery”.
“We have to do more and we have to do it faster,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show. The Chancellor said the Government would be introducing legislation when Parliament returns today to speed up planning decisions, and to enable it to use its low interest rates to help underwrite construction projects.
“We can speed up planning. It is absolutely ludicrous that it takes years to get planning decisions in this country. This country, in the current economic environment, cannot afford to wait years for development,” he said.
But Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable played down suggestionsthat a relaxation of the planning rules was the “golden key” which could unlock growth.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he said: “It is crucial that we have more housebuilding but it is also a question of ensuring that there is proper funding through guarantees for social housing, making sure that demand comes back for private housing through the mortgage market.”