Michael Gove to set out reforms for city building spree to save countryside

Reforms to boost the supply of homes in towns and cities and avoid building in the countryside will be unveiled on Monday.

It will become easier to turn takeaways, offices and betting shops into homes in a bid to rejuvenate the nation’s high streets.

The proposals will make it easier to extend houses, convert lofts and turn barns and farm buildings into homes.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, will set out the reforms designed to “build more homes in the right places”.

The review is also intended to help small builders move ahead with projects.

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It is hoped that making it easier to build on high streets will combat “urban sprawl”.

It will also become easier to extend warehouses and commercial properties to make better use of “brownfield” sites.

Mr Gove said: “Britain needs more homes to fulfil dreams of home ownership and increase choice for renters. But they must be of the right type and in the right places.

“So we must build more in places that make sense, in our inner cities, so we protect our countryside.

“And we must make better use of the buildings we have. Empty shops or offices cannot be gathering dust while we have urgent need for more homes.” Reforms will also allow outdoor markets to operate for more days per year.

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The announcement comes amid concern about a lack of affordable homes.

Research in 2019 said England needed 340,000 new homes a year.

But the House of Commons Library revealed that 233,000 new homes were built in 2021-22. However, back in 2012-13 the figure was just 125,000.

Meanwhile, Labour says it wants to put 1.5 million more people on the housing ladder. It plans to introduce a “state-backed mortgage insurance scheme” to help people struggling to save for a large deposit.

Foreign buyers would also be stopped from “purchasing swathes of new housing developments off plan” ahead of locals.

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