Consultation Launched on Planning System Overhaul

THE GOVERNMENT has published a white paper to scrap planning law in favour of a wholesale reform of the system.

The reforms aim to streamline the planning permission process, cutting red tape and using technology to deliver homes faster.

More building is proposed on brownfield land and national and local design codes aim to create more attractive housing developments.

A 30% discount will be offered to key workers and first time buyers through a First Homes scheme.

The Planning for the Future white paper proposes using Local Plans to categorise land in three groups:

Growth areas suitable for substantial development, and where outline approval for development would be automatically secured for forms and types of development specified in the Plan

Renewal areas suitable for some development, such as gentle densification

Protected areas where development is restricted.

By pre-designating land use and establishing a presumption for its development, the Government hopes to provide more certainty for housing developers and house builders.

It will also enable SME house builders to enter a market where, the government says, the costs of navigating the planning system have privileged the big house builders who can afford the investment and risk taking needed to go through the planning system.

Local Plans

Local Plans will set rules rather than general policies for development. A development management policy will be set by government nationally, with a more focused role for Local Plans in identifying site and area specific requirements, alongside locally-produced design codes.

Plans will be shorter, containing a core set of standards and requirements for development.

Local consultation

Local councils will be encouraged to seek engagement at the plan-making stage. Local Plans should be subject to a single statutory “sustainable development” test. It is proposed that they should be visual and map-based and standardised, shorter, and limited to no more than setting out site or area-specific parameters and opportunities.

Local authorities and the Planning Inspectorate will be required to meet a statutory timetable of no more than 30 months and there will be sanctions for failing.

Decision-making should be faster and more certain, within deadlines, and should make greater use of data and digital technology.

A digital-first approach is proposed to make it easier to understand plans proposed and for people to give their views through social networks and via their phones. Interactive maps will show what can be built where.

The digital-first approach is extended to standardising, and making digitally accessible planning decisions and developer contributions.

Quality assurance

The National Planning Policy will automatically permit proposals for high quality developments where they reflect local character and preferences.

It will contain a framework for assessing environmental impacts and enhancement opportunities.

Local councils will have to consult local residents to draw up design guidance and codes, making them more binding on planning decisions.

Each local planning authority will have a chief officer for design and place-making, to raise design standards and the quality of development.

Infrastructure Levy

Reform of developer contributions will involve scrapping the Community Infrastructure Levy in favour of a nationally-set, value-based, flat rate charge, the Infrastructure Levy.

The Government says it aims to deliver the same or more affordable housing as at present. Local authorities will be able to use developer contributions for affordable homes. Additional homes delivered through permitted rights will not be exempt from the new infrastructure levy.

Local Plans

A national, binding housing requirement will be imposed on Local Plans to stop land supply being a

barrier to homes being built aiming to deliver 300,000 homes annually. The masterplans and design codes for sites prepared for development should seek to include a variety of development types from different builders which allow more phases to come forward together.

To assist SMEs and new entrants to the sector, data held on contractual arrangements used to control land will be improved.

Publicly-owned land will be used to support renewal and regeneration of town centres and the SME and selfbuild sectors.

The consultation closes on 29 October 2020.



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