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Watch now: Planning for the future

Victoria Longmore, partner and planning specialist at Lodders, highlights the important points in the ‘Planning for the future’ White Paper.

On 6th August 2020, two significant consultation documents were released. The ‘Planning for the future’ and ‘Changes to the current planning system’ White Papers outline wholesale reforms to the planning system in England.

Watch now

Watch the webinar in full below, which has a running time of around 12 minutes:

Changes to the system

The ‘Changes to the current planning system’ covers some important changes to assessing housing numbers, delivering first homes and supporting small and medium-sized developers. In our most recent webinar, Victoria Longmore explains the important points of the ‘Planning for the future’ bill, which proposes widespread reforms to the planning system in:

  • Plan making;
  • Development management;
  • Infrastructure payments; and,
  • Digitising the planning system.

The consultation period for ‘Planning for the future’ runs through to 29th October 2020, and the proposals in the paper are far-reaching, seek to put an end to the piecemeal and bolt-on fixes to the planning system which have taken place since 1947.

Plan making

The fundamental structure of plan-making remains essentially the same, but there are some important proposals which seek to re-imagine local plans and put them at the forefront of the planning regime, with significant changes which will require local plans to carve up their area into 3 different categories: growth, renewal, and protect.

The proposals for plan-making include changes to the existing test of soundness, the ‘duty to cooperate’, design codes, and management policies. There will be a new, nationally determined, and binding housing requirement. The paper also mentions the introduction of a quicker and simpler approach for sustainability appraisals for plans.

Development Management

Once again it is useful to look at development management in terms of the growth, renewal, and protect categories.

In growth areas, adopting a local plan grants outline planning permission for the prescribed uses if they meet set parameters. In renewal areas, consent can be granted through permission in principles, a full planning application, or a Local/Neighbourhood Development Order. Protect areas would need a full planning application.

Infrastructure payments

The proposal is to get rid of the Community Infrastructure Levy and s.106 agreements and replace them with a “nationally set, value-based flat rate charge” to be known as the ‘Infrastructure Levy’ (i.e. a tax). Local councils would be able to spend this levy on local infrastructure including affordable housing, and could also borrow against Infrastructure Levy revenues to help them forward fund infrastructure.

Digitising the planning system

The proposals promise support for local planning authorities to use digital tools, and it is hoped that this will give local communities a voice.

Reactions to the proposals

Critics have raised concerns that the proposals may undermine local democracy and marginalise local councils, despite the White Paper’s aim to enhance local involvement.

Media reaction portrayed the White Paper as paving the way for the next generation of slums, but this seems unfair. The idea is to give more power to councilors, local people, and communities to able to draw up pattern books of what development should look like and the standard it should meet.

What next?

The details of the proposals will need to be thrashed out and will require careful scrutiny. New primary and secondary legislation and new NPPF and guidance will be needed. The White Paper suggests that new local plans will be in place by 2024, but this very much depends on how quickly the bill makes its way through Parliament.

Nonetheless, the government needs to ensure that the transition to the new system is as smooth as possible, and they will need to support local councils, and ensure that they have the necessary resources.

More information

If you have any questions on the topics raised in this article, please contact Victoria Longmore on 01789 206119, or via email.

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Find out more...

If you have any questions on the topics raised in this article, please contact Victoria Longmore on 01789 206119, or via email.