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Chancellor expected to boost brownfield housing projects

Chancellor George Osborne is expected to announce measures to boost the number of brownfield sites available for new housing developments this week.He is expected to use his Mansion House speech to unveil new measures to boost the supply of homes by facilitating the development of disused town and city sites.The government is expected to cut the amount of red tape attached to public sector sites that are no longer used, to enable them to be sold off to developers more easily.Measures were announced in the recent infrastructure bill to boost the housing supply. These included a new 'deemed discharge' provision on planning conditions in order to end delays on projects for which planning permission has already been granted.A local land charges register is also to be brought in to help speed up the home-buying process.The chancellor has come under pressure over housing in recent weeks, with concerns raised over the effect of the Help to Buy scheme in contributing to soaring house prices.A new report by law firm EMW shows that eight of the ten areas with the sharpest drop in planning applications last year were in London and the south east.However, it also shows that the housing recovery is spreading to the north of England, with eight out of ten areas with the largest increases in planning applications between 2012 and the start of 2014 in this part of the country.Giles Ferin, head of planning at EMW, said: "There has been a dramatic recovery in the residential property sector over the last couple of years, driven in large part by the return of first time buyers to the market following the introduction of the Help To Buy scheme. That development boom has now hit the north."In good news for the government, Mr Ferin added that Help to Buy has led to builders undertaking more developments and there has been a surge in construction activity in areas such as Manchester and Liverpool. 

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