Planning for the Future

September 09, 2020

Last month, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government released a White Paper seeking views on a variety of proposals to reform the planning system in England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says within the Paper – ‘Thanks to our planning system, we have nowhere near enough homes in the right places.  People cannot afford to move to where their talents can be matched with opportunity.  Businesses cannot afford to grow and create jobs. The whole thing is beginning to crumble, and the time has come to do what too many have for too long lacked the courage to do – tear it down and start again.’

The proposals aim to ‘streamline and modernise the planning process, improve outcomes on design and sustainability, reform developer contributions, and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed.’ 

Below are some points of note within the White Paper for anyone interested in the development of land and the creation of new homes:

  • The Paper reiterates the importance of the need to build more homes in appropriate areas.  It suggests areas suitable for substantial development can be defined in Local Plans as ‘growth areas’, areas suitable for some development could be considered ‘renewal areas’; as well as restricting development in ‘protected areas’.   The Paper suggests ‘This could halve the time it takes to secure planning permission on larger sites identified in plans.’
  • Currently, Local Plans are based on ‘policies’ which can be interpreted in various ways creating uncertainty for members of the public and those wishing to submit planning applications.  The Paper suggests Local Authorities set clear rules for standards and requirements for development, including a focus on design and quality.  In addition, it is anticipated the length of Local Plans could be reduced by two thirds.
  • There is a focus on integrating digital technology to the planning system to improve the speed of the planning system and clarity of information, something I know many of our clients would surely welcome.
  • The paper discusses the need to combat climate change and to ‘Facilitate ambitious improvements in the energy efficiency standards for buildings to help deliver our world-leading commitment to net-zero by 2050.
  • Changes to contributions paid to Local Authorities for the improvement of infrastructure as well as the provision of on-site affordable housing are suggested.  – ‘The Community Infrastructure Levy and the current system of planning obligations will be reformed as a nationally set, value-based flat rate charge (the ‘Infrastructure Levy’). A single rate or varied rates could be set. We will aim for the new Levy to raise more revenue than under the current system of developer contributions and deliver at least as much – if not more – on-site affordable housing as at present.’  In addition, it is suggested that the Government ‘will also look to extend the scope of the consolidated Infrastructure Levy and remove exemptions from it to capture changes of use through permitted development rights so that additional homes delivered through this route bring with them support for new infrastructure.

The consultation will last for 12 weeks from 6th August 2020. Should you wish to view the White Paper in full, its associated documents, or respond to the White Paper please follow the link – https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future.

If you have any questions or thoughts with regards to the proposed changes, our Land Department is always open to confidential discussions or informal chats, call (01252) 597765, [email protected].

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