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Following on from the Planning for the Future White Paper and consultation which closed last October, proposals are being pursued for a significant shake-up of the planning system.
Alongside plans to digitise much of the system, hopefully making it a swifter, more user-friendly experience there are also radical plans to change the structure of Local Plans. The biggest single change is the designation of areas as Growth, Renewal or Protect.
In Growth areas, being those suitable for substantial development, Local Plans will set out the use classes, height, and densities that will be acceptable. Adoption of the Local Plan will confer Outline Planning Permission for a development coming forward within those parameters.
When development is to be brought forward in a Growth area then subject to meeting these parameters, the requirements of a Masterplan and Design Code a developer will need to submit a Reserved Matters Application or secure a Local Development Order. Where an application conforms with these criteria, then the proposal is for Planning Officers to have delegated authority to determine them, rather than having to go to Planning Committee.
In Renewal areas, there will be a statutory presumption in favour of granting permission for specified uses, again, subject to agreed height and densities being established. Planning Consent would be granted through a Full Planning Application or Local Development Order.
The areas to be designated Protect will likely include Green Belts, AONB’s, local wildlife sites, open countryside, and other designations such as conservation areas. Development will be permitted in these areas but only through the use of a Full Planning Application.
Whilst development is possible in Protect areas, the plans for easing development constraints within the Green Belt are currently unclear.
The purpose of reform is to speed up planning and whilst much of what is proposed is ambitious, unless sufficient resources are put into Local Authority Planning Departments they are going to be a challenge to deliver. Many councils have struggled to resource the current plan-making process so hopefully, the centralisation of elements of this will ease the workload – let’s wait and see how that pans out”.