In a speech in the West Midlands on 30th June, Mr Johnson pledged to 'build, build, build' to soften the 'economic aftershock' of the pandemic. New regulations announced by the prime minister aim to give 'greater freedom' for buildings and land to change use without planning permission. Under what the Prime Minister called 'project speed,' planning laws would also be streamlined to encourage more construction. Changes, planned for September, include allowing existing commercial properties, including newly vacant shops, to be converted into residential housing more easily. They also include reducing the normal planning process for builders who want to demolish and rebuild vacant residential and commercial buildings as homes. Property owners would be able to build additional space above their properties 'via a fast track approval process', subject to neighbour consultation. The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said it 'welcomed' a simplification of the planning system as it had been 'asking this for many years'.
However, the planning system has also been criticised for preventing rural business development because of the complexity and costs involved. Leading green groups warned that the English countryside and its wildlife are at serious risk because of Boris Johnson’s pledge to revolutionise the planning system. In a joint letter to the Observer, the organisations, which include the National Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Wildlife Trusts, say wide-scale deregulation leading to lower environmental standards and less protection would be a betrayal of promises by Johnson and Michael Gove to deliver a ‘green Brexit’.
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