What to expect in Jenrick's speech on planning system changes today

The chancellor yesterday revealed that housing secretary Robert Jenrick would today set out "comprehensive reforms to bring the planning system into the 21st century". What should we expect?

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick (Getty)
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick (Getty)

The statements made in yesterday’s Budget suggest that the government will announce its proposed planning policy changes in more than one stage.

The documents accompanying the Budget said that Jenrick’s announcement today would be followed by the planning White Paper "in the Spring".

They also raise the possibility of a further round of planning policy development after that, saying "the government will also explore long-term reforms to the planning system, rethinking planning from first principles, to ensure the system is providing more certainty to the public, LPAs and developers."

Here are some of the changes to look out for:

1 Relaxation of planning rules to make it easier to extend homes upwards

Jenrick said earlier this week that the government would "shortly" publish details of its proposals to relax planning laws to make it easier for homeowners to add additional storeys to their properties. Several commentators drew attention to the fact that Jenrick now seems to be focussing on the measure’s potential to create extra space within existing homes, rather than additional housing units. An analysis article examining the implications for planners of an upwards extension PD right can be found here.

2 Rule changes to make it easier to demolish existing properties and replace them with housing

The Times reports this morning that Jenrick will today announce "moves to make it easier for smaller developers to demolish buildings and replace them with housing on brownfield land". Speaking at a Tory conference fringe event last year, Jenrick said the government would create a right for developers to demolish "neglected" commercial buildings to make way for new housing. Consent would be secured through the two-stage permission in principle route, he said, with authorities able to consider issues such as quality, the facade, height and parking provision.

3 A degree of relaxation of rules governing development in the green belt

In a speech last month, Jenrick reiterated his wish to protect the green belt and avoid "urban sprawl and needless ruination of your countryside". But he said that, to do this, government, local councils and local communities would need to make "difficult choices", and think "more imaginatively and actively than ever before". This would mean "you will need to build on green belt land", he said.

4 Measures to make it easier to build housing in town centres

In the same speech, Jenrick said "you’ll need to reimagine high streets and town centres". At a Tory conference fringe meeting last year, he said ministers "want to see whether there are further planning reforms we can do to help people assemble land, to regenerate land and to get housing into town centres". He previously said the government wants to help "big developers who play an essential role in unlocking large parcels of land and getting major development done".

5 A tougher approach towards planning authorities that are not meeting housing need

Yesterday’s Budget documents said that, "where LPAs fail to meet their local housing need, there will be firm consequences, including a stricter approach taken to the release of land for development and greater government intervention".

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