Boris Johnson during his visit to the Speller Metcalfe's building site. Reuters
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled new planning rules on Tuesday to boost the number of homes and allow commercial premises to be repurposed more easily, part of a package to spur the coronavirus-hit economy.
Johnson, whose popularity has flagged over his government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, earlier promised to fast track 5-billion pound ($6.14 billion) of infrastructure spending to jump-start the economy, which has been largely shut for three months.
Returning to the promises he made at last year's election, he is targeting much of the spending at those areas in northern and central England, where many traditionally opposition Labour-supporters voted for the governing Conservatives.
The new planning regulations will give greater freedom for buildings and land in town centres to change use without planning permission and create new homes from vacant and redundant buildings.
The changes, which are planned to come into effect by September through changes to the law, include:
-- More types of commercial premises having total flexibility to be repurposed through reform of the Use Classes Order.
-- A building used for retail, for instance, would be able to be permanently used as a café or office without requiring a planning application and local authority approval.
-- Pubs, libraries, village shops and other types of uses essential to communities will not be covered by these flexibilities.
-- A wider range of commercial buildings will be allowed to change to residential use without the need for a planning application.
-- Builders will no longer need a normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes.
-- Property owners will be able to build additional space above their properties via a fast track approval process, subject to neighbour consultation.
-- Work will begin to look at how land owned by the government can be managed more effectively.
Britain unveiled a 30 billion-pound ($39 billion) stimulus plan to help the economy as it faces the risk of a coronavirus recession, hours after the Bank of England (BoE) slashed interest rates in a double-barrelled response to the crisis.
The talks, to be conducted virtually, will involve over 300 US and UK staff and officials in nearly 30 negotiating groups, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and UK trade minister Liz Truss said in a joint statement.
Johnson has told top civil servants to set an example by starting to return staff to their desks and he has also asked companies including Goldman Sachs to get more employees back after working from home, the newspaper said.
Britain will prioritise trying to save jobs over tax rises while the COVID-19 pandemic batters the economy, though record borrowing and a $2.6 trillion debt pile cannot be sustained for ever, Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister) Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday.
India saw a daily spurt of 48,648 coronavirus infections, taking its tally to 8.09 million, health ministry data showed on Friday.
India is the world’s second worst affected country, after the United States, which has nearly 9 million infections
Japan has eased travel curbs for China, Australia, South Korea and six other countries and regions, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Friday, as Tokyo steps up efforts to revive its economy while preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Japan’s move to embrace a climate target of carbon neutrality by 2050 could open the way for the beleaguered nuclear industry to fire up again, nearly a decade after the Fukushima disaster shut down most of the country’s reactors.