Permits that are not used expire automatically after three years. However, housing and planning minister John Healey has said that permits could now be extended for another three years through a simpler, cheaper process
The move has been warmly welcomed by trade body the British Property Federation which launched its Planning Manifesto last year to call for a more flexible system.
The changes won’t allow a developer to change what they are building and only apply to large developments which are above 10 homes or 1000m2 of commercial space.
BPF president Francis Salway, chief executive of Land Securities, the country’s biggest developer, said: "Obtaining greater flexibility in the planning system remains a key area of our lobbying and today’s announcement is a very welcome victory for common sense. This is one of the measures needed to allow the industry to keep regeneration schemes alive. Many developers will have land ready to develop without the means to finance work immediately. John Healey’s measures are very sensible and it is clear Government has listened to our advice."
Jonathan Seager, assistant director for planning at the BPF said: "We have been working closely with the Government to explain the extent to which the property industry has been suffering in the recession. We therefore welcome this comprehensive set of new tools which will help to deliver more houses and economic development. The Government has listened to the concerns of developers and councils and is creating a sensible range of new interventions which will help to get some stalled schemes going again."
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