On 11th May, changes to the planning system were announced in the Queen’s speech as the UK government set out its plan to help build 300,000 new homes per year and increase home ownership. This will involve the ‘biggest shake up to the planning system in 70 years’ as the government indicated that its focus will be on “levelling up” the UK and bringing forward new legislation to modernise the system.
The news has been very positively received by the house building industry but what are the main benefits and elements of the proposed changes to the planning system?
Benefits of the Proposed Planning System
- Providing more certainty for communities and particularly small developers about what is permitted where. This will be through clear land allocations in local plans and stronger rules on design.
- Simpler, faster procedures for producing local development plans, approving major schemes, assessing environmental impacts and negotiating affordable housing and infrastructure contributions from development.
- Establishing a framework which focusses on positive outcomes such as environmental opportunities and better designed places.
- Digitising a system to make it more visual and easier for local people to fully engage with.
Elements of the Proposed Planning System
- Changing local plans so that they provide more certainty over the type, scale and design of development permitted on different categories of land.
- Significantly decreasing the time it takes for developments to go through the planning system.
- Replacing the existing systems for funding affordable housing and infrastructure from development with a more predictable and transparent levy.
- Using post-Brexit freedoms to simplify and enhance the framework for environmental assessments for developments.
- Reforming the framework for locally led development corporations to ensure local areas have access to appropriate delivery vehicles to support growth and regeneration.
The Bill will extend to the whole of the UK; however, the majority of provisions will apply to England.
Reasons for the Proposed Changes
There has been a change in how houses have been provided. Approximately 30 years ago, smaller businesses were responsible for around 40% of new homes built but currently that figure is only 12%. The Government have commented that the current system does not lead to enough homes being built, especially in places where the demand for new homes is the highest.
Currently, adopted local plans provide for 192,725 homes per year across England. It is notable however, that the Local Government Association has commented in relation to the Queen’s speech that councils are granting permission for 9 in 10 planning applications and do not consider themselves a barrier to development with over 1.1 million homes that have been given planning permission in the past decade still not built.