Chancellor announces shake-up of planning, stamp duty changes and extra infrastructure cash

George Osborne has delivered his ‘Budget for growth’, with a far-reaching package of measures designed to boost the construction sector.

The key announcements impacting on construction include:

  • A shake-up of planning, including a “new presumption in favour of sustainable development”. Local authorities will also allow commercial property to be converted to housing without the need for planning permission - as expected.
  • Osborne confirmed a £250m shared equity scheme for first time buyers that will help the construction of 10,000 homes.
  • Stamp duty will be levied on mean value of homes rather than bulk to help the private rented sector.
  • £200m extra funding will be made available for regional railways due to “savings” at the transport department. Osborne offers £100m extra for filling winter potholes.
  • The Chancellor announced the creation of 21 new enterprise zones, including Birmingham, the Black Country, Leeds, Greater Manchester, Tyneside, Bristol, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Sheffield. A further 10 will be announced in the summer.
  • Green Investment Bank will not offer borrowing until 2015, as predicted. The GIB will become fully fledged if the government meets its debt commitments.
  • The carbon floor price has been set at £16 from 2013, rising to £30 in 2020.

In the Plan for Growth, launched alongside the Budget, the government reveresed the policy of zero carbon homes set to come in by 2016 by watering down its scope.

The Treasury said that energy used by appliances in homes will not have to be generated from renewable sources, and the zero carbon definition will only cover heating, lighting and water