Following Wednesday's Budget, the government published a paper, Planning for the Future, detailing a range of fresh changes to the planning system, alongside details on what will be included in the forthcoming planning White Paper, due to be published later in the spring.
1. The government is to review the formula for how local authorities calculate their housing need to encourage "greater building in urban areas". Announcing the move in a statement to the House of Commons, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: "We’ll be reviewing our approach to planning to ensure our system enables more homes to come forward in the places that people most want to live, with jobs, with transport links and other amenities on their doorstep. This means making the best use of land and existing transport infrastructure. To that end, I’m announcing that we will review the formula for calculating local housing need, taking a fresh approach, which means building more homes, but encouraging greater building in urban areas." Full story.
2. All local authorities will be required to have an up-to-date local plan by December 2023 or face central government intervention. The government said that all local authorities must have an up-to-date local plan by the new deadline. "The government will prepare to intervene where local authorities fail to meet the deadline in accordance with the existing statutory powers, considering appropriate action on a case-by-case basis," the Planning for the Future paper says. Full story.
3. The government is to introduce a new permitted development (PD) right "to encourage building upwards" by the summer, and will consult on another PD right allowing the demolition of commercial buildings and their replacement with housing. The Planning for the Future document said the government would introduce new PD rules "to encourage building upwards, increasing density in line with local character and make the most of local infrastructure". The document added that the government will "consult on the detail" of the new demolitions permitted development right which would allow "vacant commercial buildings, industrial buildings and residential blocks to be demolished and replaced with well-designed new residential units which meet natural light standards". Full story.
4. The document also said that the Planning White Paper will include measures to allow successful appellants against refusals of planning applications to have their application fee refunded. The refunds for successful appellants are being introduced "to promote proper consideration of applications by planning committees", the paper said. Full story.
5. The document also said the White Paper will expand the use of "zoning tools" to support development. "The government will outline further support for local areas to simplify the process of granting planning permission for residential and commercial development through zoning tools, such as local development orders (LDOs)," it said.
6. The White Paper will also include plans for a new performance-related planning fee structure. The new structure will be designed to ensure that "planning authorities are properly resourced to improve the speed and quality of their decisions", the Planning for the Future document said.
7. The document also said that the White Paper will explore "wider options to encourage planning permissions to be built out more quickly".
8. The White Paper will also include measures to improve "the effectiveness, take-up and role of compulsory purchase orders (CPO) to help facilitate land assembly and infrastructure delivery". Planning for the Future said the government will "introduce further support and expertise to local authorities to give greater confidence in using CPO powers and will consult on legislative reforms to speed up the decision-making process".
9. There will also be measures in the White Paper to "maximise the potential of new technologies to modernise the system", the document said, and "make it easier for communities to understand the planning system and play a role in decisions that affect them."
10. Planning for the Future also said that, as part of the White Paper's drive to enable more use of compulsory purchase orders to assemble land and deliver infrastructure, the government "intends to consult on: introducing statutory timescales for decisions; ending the automatic right to public inquiry; encouraging early agreements on compensations; and exploring the scope to remit more decisions back to local authorities; as well as wider reform."
11. The Planning for Future document also said that the government will consult this spring on changing the New Homes Bonus - a government fund that rewards authorities which help to enable housing growth - "to incentivise greater delivery and ensure that where authorities are building more homes, they have access to greater funding to provide services for those who move into them".
12. The government is launching a "national brownfield sites map" in April 2020.
13. The government is to issue a call for evidence on the challenges and opportunities around "building above stations in urban areas".
14. The government will review its policy for building in areas at flood risk. "We will assess whether current protections in the National Planning Policy Framework are enough and consider options for further reform, which will inform our wider ambitions for a new planning system," Planning for the Future said.
15. A new "net zero development" will be established in Toton, Nottinghamshire, where a new HS2 station is planned.