“Build build build”: Boris Johnson’s plans for UK after coronavirus
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to "level up" the country with the government's new investment plan. Across the UK, jobs, construction and infrastructure will be at the heart of the new scheme. In a speech in the West Midlands yesterday, the UK prime minister set out the government's strategy for recovery in the wake of COVID-19. Describing the proposals as a "New Deal", the Conservatives plan to "build, build, build" to get the country's economy back on track. He also addressed the inequalities that have persisted across the UK for many years.
The north-south divide has left some areas of the country without adequate funding and investment, and this is going to be a key target for the government. Boris Johnson said: "Too many parts of this country have felt left behind, neglected, unloved, as though someone had taken a strategic decision that their fate did not matter as much as the metropolis." "And so I want you to know that this government not only has a vision to change this country for the better, we have a mission to unite and level up.
" Planning system reform One key part of yesterday's announcement was a "radical" planning system reform. This will see greater freedom for developers to convert vacant or unused buildings for residential use, without the need for planning permission. The plans cover ex-commercial buildings, like shops. For now, pubs, libraries, village shops and other community sites will still need planning permission. However, this could change from September. The changes "will both support the high street revival by allowing empty commercial properties to be quickly repurposed and reduce the pressure to build on green field land by making brownfield development easier".
“Developers will still need to adhere to high standards and regulations, just without the unnecessary red tape.” The new rules could make a huge difference to the number of new homes becoming available across the UK. They will mean that such conversions can be completed much more quickly. Boris Johnson also alluded to a focus on the UK's green credentials, which is becoming an increasingly important issue. He added: “To that end we will build build build. Build back better, build back greener, build back faster and to do that at the pace that this moment requires.
” Major infrastructure investment: another boost to housing Infrastructure projects across the country will receive a £5bn support package from the government. This includes £100m for 29 road network projects, such as bridge repairs and improvements to the A15 in the Humber region. A further £10m will go towards unblocking the "Manchester rail bottleneck", which will begin later this year. According to northern leaders, the current system causes delays to the "whole of the north of England".
There have been calls to finally solve the issue for many years, so the announcement will be welcome news to much of the Northern Powerhouse. The government will also commit £900m for "shovel-ready" local projects in England for 2020 and 2021. Each area in the towns fund will also receive £500,000 to £1m towards parks, high streets and transport improvements. Much of Boris Johnson's 'New Deal' strategy will also create "thousands of high-paid, high-skilled jobs". This will provide a huge boost to the UK, reasserting its international reputation as one of the world's strongest economies.