Today the Government published its long-awaited white paper on planning reform, which seeks views on 24 proposals.
In this legal insight we look at the key areas that have been targeted for reform.
Local plans are perceived as being too lengthy and complex, and also taking too long to produce. It is proposed that they be simplified to identify three areas:
The white paper suggests that planning permission would automatically be granted to schemes in Growth areas. Therefore, no planning application would be required. Detailed planning permission could be obtained either by:
A slightly more stringent process is proposed for developments in Renewal areas, with consent being granted in one of three ways:
Applications for planning consent for development in Protected areas would be dealt with in the same way as under the current system.
Since The Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 came into force, they have been subject to repeated amendment. The Government is now proposing to replace the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) with what it is calling a consolidated infrastructure levy. It is proposed that this would be a fixed proportion of the development value above a threshold, with a mandatory nationally-set rate or rates, and would be charged on the final value of a development. The detail of how it is proposed that this be calculated is not set out.
The consolidated infrastructure levy would replace both CIL and planning agreements, and the Government intends that local planning authorities would have more freedom on how to spend the levy. This may lead to concerns about provision for affordable housing, which is currently dealt with via Section 106 agreements. The white paper asks for views on whether local planning authorities should be required to ring-fence a proportion for affordable housing.
It is also intended that the new levy would capture changes of use facilitated by permitted development rights, even where there was no increase in floor space.
There have been concerns about housing delivery for many years. How to set housing requirement figures can delay the local plan process, so it is suggested that a standard method be introduced. This would, in effect, distribute the national housebuilding target of 300,000 new homes annually between local planning authorities.
The Government has published a separate consultation on proposed changes to the standard method of assessing housing need.
The white paper states that there should be ‘a renewed focus on the beauty of new development’, with Pillar 2 of the white paper focusing on Planning for beautiful and sustainable places.
The white paper sets out three ways in which the Government intends to introduce a fast-track for beauty:
The white paper also sets out that each local planning authority should have a chief officer for design and place-making. How this is to be resourced by already cash-poor local planning authorities is not addressed. However, the Government sets out that it will be releasing proposals later this year for improving the resourcing of planning departments.
The consultation is already generating a lot of comment (both positive and negative), so should provide discussion on how to proceed with a number of planning issues. The consultation will be open for the next six weeks.
Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at August 2020. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.
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