Reform of Government planning process

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Reform of Government planning process

[This is the full version of the story in the second half of the Development article on page 2 of the Autumn 2020 SRA Newsletter]

The Government is proposing a radical overhaul of the present planning process and has issued a White Paper for consultation, called ‘Planning for the Future’. The document says that the Government’s aspiration is to create a housing market that is capable of delivering 300,000 homes annually and 1 million homes during the current Parliament.

The Paper describes creating ‘a system fit for the 21st century’, and moving away from a paper-based system to a digital one. No longer would there be ‘notices fixed to lamp-posts’. Local plans would be simplified and development land divided into three categories: ‘Growth areas’, described as suitable for substantial development and where outline approval for development would be automatically secured for forms and types of development specified in the Plan; ‘Renewal areas’, suitable for some development; and ‘Protected areas’, where development would be restricted. The Paper suggests that this could halve the time it takes to secure planning permission on larger sites.

Local authorities spend a great amount of time developing Local Plans and it does appear that these proposals in respect of planning would sweep away much of this detail. The Government document suggests that Enforcement Rights will be increased, but it remains to be seen whether the move to rapidly increase building works will lower the quality of housing.