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In August the Government launched a consultation on radical planning reform. This runs until 29th October and seeks views on a package of measures which the White Paper describes as delivering “a more engaging, more equitable and effective system which will halve the time it takes to achieve a planning decision”.
The Government’s proposals to reform the planning process are wide-ranging and this article focuses on how these will impact the most common interface people have with the planning system. In this regard, there are a number of key ambitions.
The White Paper proposes radical reform of local plans with a suite of centrally drawn, nationally imposed development management policies allowing the production of simplified Local Plans (c a third of their current size). These would use 3 principal designations for land:
Growth – Suitable for substantial development
Renewal – Suitable for some development
Protected – No development
Local plans are to be produced within a national template and in a more visual, map-based form accessed via the latest technology. The decision-making process will become process-driven and based on data. Councils will use digital tools to deliver a new civic engagement process. They will make openly and digitally available those datasets which inform their decisions.
The overhauled system will facilitate ambitious climate change and environmental benefits. These will be achieved with a quicker and simpler framework for assessing environmental impact and opportunities for enhancement.
Through locally produced design codes based on genuine community engagement, beauty will be put at the heart of the process with a fast track option for schemes that reflect local character and preferences.
CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) and Section 106 contributions will be done away with and replaced with a nationally set, value-based levy. The ambition for this is to raise more revenue than the current system, to capture a greater share of the uplift which comes from development, and to deliver more infrastructure which the existing and new communities require.
There will be at least the same level of affordable housing delivered with a greater emphasis for this to be on site. Schemes consented through the recently widened permitted development rights will be captured by the new levy.
The White Paper also encourages the development of brownfield land. This could see a focus on town and city centre schemes especially if there remains a significant downturn in their fortunes in a post-COVID-19 world.
This could all reduce the prospects of development on much of the land owned by our clients, however, a focus on local design codes, environmental net gain, and a simpler, quicker system are all advantages which we should embrace.
If you have an interest in development, I would recommend reading the White Paper (as there is more to it than this article covers) and engaging with the consultation. If the impact of these proposals is something which you would like advice on, then please get in touch.