Post-COVID Planning Reform

Boris ‘bill-d’ to update the current planning system

Boris unveiled a new planning bill

As long as we can remember, there has been a need to reform the planning system to deal with many of the longstanding issues. This week Boris Johnson unveiled plans to implement a whole new planning bill to do just this during the Queen’s speech.

When asked whether the current system is is still fit for purpose, Boris’ response was:

Time has come to do what too many have for too long lacked the courage to do – tear it down and start again.

The Negotiator

Radical change from the White paper is aiming to make sure the right land, is available to the right people, for the right development.

We realised it might be useful not only to highlight the issues with the current planning system but also the supposed changes for the future of planning.

What’s wrong with the current Planning System?

  • The ‘long-term’ strategy relating to housing need assessments and viability does not prover the robust qualities needed to tackle the current housing crisis.
  • The lack of innovation and development in technology throughout the planning process causes delays.
  • The average preparation time is 7 years to adopt a Local Plan. By June 2020 only 50% of Local Authorities achieved this. As a result policies are often out of date as soon as they are published.
  • Planning decisions tend to be on a case-by-case, discretionary basis rather than following a consistent criteria. This leads to increased planning risk and costs of development
  • The current system is far to complex which adds large elements of risk and uncertainty, particularly for smaller developers.
  • The contributions for affordable housing and infrastructure can often be lengthy and complex negotiations. This causes further delays and can result in affordable housing still being under supplied.

The bottom line is that the above has led to an insufficient supply of new homes being built in area that has the highest need. There is also an unnecessarily high level of risk to development which we are excited to soon be leaving in the past.

What does the new Planning Bill propose?

  • A much needed improvement to the technology and innovation in the planning system with the aim of improving the speed of decision making.
  • Standard method introduced for establishing housing requirement figures.
  • Local Plan currently operates a test of soundness, this is allegedly going to be replaced with a single statutory test of ‘sustainable development’.
  • The introduction of Zoning for Local Plans to categorise growth areas, renewal areas and protected areas. Most notably of these areas, the Growth zoned areas. These areas are to be automatically granted outlined planning permission for the principle of development
  • A statutory timetable introduced for key stages of the planning process, to hopefully give all parties a structure to follow and work to.
  • Section 106 agreements no longer used and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) being altered.
  • Local Plans implemented within a reduced timescale of 30 months by Local Authorities which should prevent plans being published that are immediately out of date.

The proposals for change are exhaustive, however we’ve hopefully outlined for you some of the key elements that you may need to be aware of in the future.

For more information and advice on how this may affect you and your business please get in touch:

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