New homes and hospitals will be granted "automatic" permission to be built as part of sweeping planning reforms in England, the housing secretary says. Robert Jenrick announced a "permission in principle" will be given to developments on land designated "for renewal" to speed-up building. It comes after the PM pledged £5bn to "build, build, build". Shelter has warned against any reforms that lead to small amounts of "bad-quality" housing. The homeless charity has said 280,000 homes received permission in England between 2011 and 2016 but were never built.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick ignored warnings about "slums of the future" in an official report on planning reforms, its author says. Dr Ben Clifford raised concerns over the "health, wellbeing and quality of life" of people living in tiny flats converted from vacant offices. But he said he was not asked to discuss his report's findings with ministers. The government instead pushed ahead with further de-regulation of England's planning system. Officials say allowing developers to bypass traditional planning permission to convert offices into flats has created more than 60,000 badly-needed new homes in the past four years.
Labour says it would scrap a government scheme that allows offices and industrial buildings to be converted into homes without planning permission. The party said changes to permitted development rules in England had led to the creation of "slum housing and rabbit hutch flats". It also said developers had been able to avoid building affordable homes. The Conservatives said the plans would "cut house building and put a stop to people achieving home ownership". In 2013, the government changed planning rules to allow developers to turn offices, warehouses and industrial buildings into residential blocks without getting permission from the local council, in a bid to boost house building.
Labour has urged Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to publish all correspondence relating to his approval of a £1bn property scheme. The call came after it emerged the beneficiary has since given money to the Conservative Party. Richard Desmond donated £12,000 two weeks after Mr Jenrick gave planning permission for his company to build 1,500 homes in east London. The Conservatives said policies were "in no way influenced by donations". But Labour said Mr Jenrick must show the process was "fair and transparent" and a local councillor said the donation "raised questions" for the minister.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick still has questions to answer over his role in a planning case involving a Tory donor, Sir Keir Starmer has said. The Labour leader told the BBC the matter was "far from closed" but stopped short of calling for the minister's resignation. Mr Jenrick is under fire after granting permission for a luxury housing development to donor Richard Desmond. Downing Street said the PM had full confidence in the minister. Mr Jenrick says he was motivated by a desire to see more homes built when he overruled government inspectors to give the green light to Mr Desmond's plans for a 1,500 home development at the former Westferry printing works, in London's Isle of Dogs.