Planning for the Future states that the government will bring forward a series of major publications and legislate to deliver lasting change. This will start with a Planning White Paper in the Spring to modernise the planning system, ensuring it supports the delivery of homes that local people need and creates more beautiful and greener communities. It adds that the government will introduce a Building Safety Bill to bring about the biggest change in building safety for a generation and a Renters' Reform Bill to provide greater stability for those who rent their homes. To ensure that residents in social homes are treated fairly they will publish a Social Housing White Paper. Taken together these will form the bedrock of a housing strategy to be published later in the year, setting out longer-term plans to deliver homes and create a fairer housing market. As part of this the government will:
- Reform planning fees to ensure that planning authorities are properly resourced to improve the speed and quality of their decisions. This will be linked to a new performance framework to ensure performance improvements across the planning service for all users.
- Automatic rebates where planning applications are successful at appeal – to promote proper consideration of applications by planning committees, where applications are refused applicants will be entitled to an automatic rebate of their planning application fee if they are successful at appeal.
- Act to make it clearer who owns land by requiring greater transparency on land options. They will explore wider options to encourage planning permissions to be built out more quickly.
- 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. The government will trial the use of templates for drafting LDOs and other zonal tools to create simpler models and financial incentives to support more effective use. The government has also launched a consultation on a new UK Freeport model, including on how zoning could be better used to support accompanying development.
- Improve the effectiveness, take-up and role of Compulsory Purchase Orders to help facilitate land assembly and infrastructure delivery
- Revise the NPPF to embed the principles of good design and placemaking – this will make clear that high-quality buildings and places must be considered throughout the planning process. The framework will expand on the fundamental principles of good design to define what is expected of local authorities and developers to support the creation of beautiful places.
- Respond to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission’s report – government will look to take forward many of the Commission’s recommendations, which include calling for urban tree planting and giving communities a greater opportunity to influence design standards in their area.
- Give local authorities the ability to ensure that new homes conform to local residents’ ideas of beauty through the planning system – using the National Model Design Code the government will set out clear parameters for promoting the design and style of homes and neighbourhoods local people want to see.
The document adds that government will back brownfield, encouraging greater building in urban areas. They will introduce new tools to support communities to densify and make best use of their underutilised brownfield land. These will include:
- The launch a national brownfield sites map in April 2020 and a call for proposals to seek evidence on the barriers to, and opportunities in, building above stations in urban areas.
- Reviewing the formula for calculating Local Housing Need – they will introduce a new approach which encourages greater building within and near to urban areas and makes sure the country is planning for the delivery of 300,000 new homes a year.
- Introducing new rules to encourage building upwards, increasing density in line with local character and make the most of local infrastructure – they will introduce new permitted development rights for building upwards on existing buildings by summer 2020, including to extend residential blocks by up to two storeys and to deliver new and bigger homes. They will also consult on the detail of a new permitted development right to 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.
- Supporting community and self-build housing – they will support those who want to build their own homes to find plots of land and provide help to parish councils and neighbourhood forums who wish to build a small number of homes to allow their communities to grow organically, providing homes for the next generation and those wishing to downsize.
The document also states that to ensure that communities make land sufficiently available to deliver homes in the right places a plan for local housing need is only as good as the results it delivers. Government will therefore introduce new changes to ensure that land, sites and homes come forward on time and incentivise authorities to deliver more homes. This includes:
- Setting a deadline for all local authorities to have an up-to-date local plan – the government will require all local planning authorities to have up-to-date local plans by December 2023. 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.
- Continuing to drive supply through the Housing Delivery Test – they will continue with plans to raise the Housing Delivery test threshold to 75% in November 2020, incentivising local authorities to deliver on their local plans.
- Reforming the New Homes Bonus (NHB) to reward delivery – those authorities who strive to build more homes where they are most needed should be rewarded. The government will consult on reforming the NHB in Spring 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.
Date: March 2020 Date of publication