In a speech to the CBI employers’ group last night, Mr Pickles confirmed a number of bureaucratic changes likely to be included in the budget, including the relaxation of regulations required to convert disused commercial property into residential homes.
The government is pushing ahead with the change in an attempt to address the housing shortage after the number of homes built last year dropped to its lowest level since 1923.
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said the move would provide a welcome boost to the residential market, providing property that might still be capable of providing jobs is not taken out of commercial use.
Planning changes are also to include up to 20 deprived areas to be declared enterprise zones by Chancellor George Osborne, at least five of which will be announced tomorrow.
Councils will be invited to bid for the remaining places on the schemes which offer simplified planning applications and discounts on local business rates in a bid to stimulate investment.
Meanwhile the “burden of proof” is likely to be reversed so that a scheme’s opponents must make it clear why a development must not go ahead, rather than the developer arguing why it should.