Commenting on Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove’s speech on the Government’s long-term plan for housing, East Midlands Chamber director of policy and insight Chris Hobson said: “Plans to relax planning rules in cities are welcomed as this is a crucial step towards enabling regeneration, particularly when it comes to converting empty retail units into housing.
“This will enable cities, which have been directly affected by the pandemic and its economic aftershocks, to more naturally evolve as supply and demand changes without the shackles of an over-reaching planning system.
“While retail has for a long time dominated many urban centres, we know that yesterday’s thinking won’t shape tomorrow’s places, which will need to accommodate a mixture of uses for living, working and spending leisure time in order to attract a wide range of people.
“In the East Midlands, we also know that a shortage of high-quality, affordable housing for young professionals and families has been a significant barrier to retaining graduates coming out of our universities.
“This has economic consequences for securing new investment from businesses seeking a young, skilled workforce, so it’s important there is a stipulation within this new planning framework to create a healthy mix of housing types.
“Likewise, however, we must also ensure we don’t just focus on dense urban areas in new housing. People want to live in a variety of communities, including towns and villages, so it’s important we don’t neglect these areas, which will also have a key role to play in driving economic growth.”