Some of the leaders of the largest housing providers in the country have written to Chancellor Philip Hammond asking him to commit to a “Build Up Not Out” proposal to ease the housing shortage in his Autumn Budget.

The letter to Hammond was penned by G15 chairperson Paul Hackett, PlaceShapers chairperson Sinéad Butters, Medland Heart CEO Ruth Cooke, Places for People group chief executive David Cowans, and Orbit CEO Mark Hoyland.

In it, the housing associations said that the proposal, which was first coined by Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose, “would extend permitted development so that planning permission is no longer required for urban property owners to build up to the height of the tallest building in the same block, or to the height of mature local trees (whichever is greater)”.

This would provide more affordable housing, resulting in mansion blocks, terraces or mews houses, without having to build on greenbelt land. The group believe it is vital to address the fact that lack of housing supply “has caused soaring prices and created one of the biggest barriers to social progress in our country today”.

Raising living standards

“Cheaper homes are one of the simplest, most effective ways of raising living standards for everyone,” the letter added. “And, by making our available cash go further, of improving the country’s economic productivity too.”

If it makes it into next week’s Autumn Budget, it is hoped the “Build Up Not Out” scheme would help to regenerate run-down town and city centres. It could also reduce “urban sprawl,” allowing more people to live closer to work, shops and other local facilities, which would positively affect peoples’ quality of life as well as improving the environment through lower emissions from commuting.

The plan would be subject to some exceptions. For example, the heritage consent needed for any changes to listed properties or conservation sites would still be required, as would building regulations on building safety.

The letter added: “Non-urban sites, and larger urban ones (where redevelopment would have a big impact on the local environment) would still need planning permission in the normal way. Where planning permission is already required to switch shops or offices into housing it would continue, but would not be needed for extensions which added apartments in addition to an existing use.”