Following on from the host of reforms announced by the Government relating to Permitted Development Rights and the Use Classes Order, a new White Paper – ‘Planning for the Future’ – was published for consultation last week.
It seems as though we can all agree that the existing planning system, which has been the subject of incremental tweaks and revisions since its inception in 1947, is far from perfect. However, the Government’s latest move under its newly adopted Build, build, build agenda seeks to deliver a radical overhaul of England’s “outdated” planning system, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s foreword proclaiming that “the time has come to do what too many have for too long lacked the courage to do – tear it down and start again”. It remains to be seen as to whether this move will provide England (and the White Paper does only relate to England, rather than the UK as a whole) with an easier, quicker and more effective planning system, or whether these reforms will instead predominantly serve as a political badge of honour. However, what is clear, is that we will be operating under a completely new planning system within the not-too-distant future to that which we have come to know (though not necessarily love) so well.
Nowhere more so is the White Paper’s overhaul more apparent than the proposals to classify all land in the country into one of three distinct zones; land for growth, land for renewal, and land for protection.
Land for growth will, it appears, benefit from automatic outline planning permission which, it is hoped, will enable proposals for new homes, schools, shops and businesses to be delivered at a quicker rate, provided that local design standards are met. These local design standards will be detailed within new local plans. The White Paper speaks at great length about the need to deliver a better system for all, with currently only 50% of areas having up-to-date local plans. Indeed, the White Paper aims to supply more developable land into these local plans, which will be subject to local resident input from the very start of the formulation process.
Land for renewal will be land subject to “much quicker development”, provided that it is well-designed and represents established community preferences for the use of this land. In this respect, it seems as though renewal land will be the subject of applications which are most like those submitted under the current system. Whether this is the case remains to be seen as more information comes to light regarding the proposed system, but one confirmed change is that the planning system will become far more ‘interactive’, spelling an end to notices tied to lampposts and a move to conduct consultation online.
Finally, land for protection will, as the name suggests, be Green Belt, AONB and other significant, identified types of land, against which all unnecessary development will be resisted.
In a bid to cut further red tape, and ensure the system is fairer for all, the White Paper also outlines the Government’s aims to reform CIL and s106 planning obligations systems, setting a national, “value-based flat rate charge” under a new Infrastructure Levy. This move seeks to ensure that the Infrastructure Levy paid by developers is flexible to market conditions and will be charged on the final value of a development, rather than an established up-front figure.
Whilst the practicalities of the Government’s proposed changes are far from finalised, what does appear certain is that we are taking steps into a new era which will see development proposals processed and determined in a more straightforward, practical and efficient manner than they are currently. Globe can also provide a further guarantee that we will be on hand to provide regular updates on the pending changes to the planning system, and will continue to help developers, householders, and all those in-between with their planning needs once the ‘new’ planning system is delivered.