Governments Planning Overhaul – Will it work?

Governments Planning Overhaul – Will it work?

‘Planning for the Future’ the government’s new white paper, aims to overhaul the planning system in a “once in a generation shake-up”.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is to designate land via “local consensus” into three categories: growth, renewal or protection.

Land labelled for growth would be approved for development at the same time as plan preparations, allowing new homes and infrastructure to be “built quickly and efficiently”.

Renewal areas will benefit from “much quicker development” if they are well designed. Protected land – including the green belt – will continue to be safeguarded.

MHCLG also intends to replace Section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy with a new Infrastructure Levy based on a proportion of the developments value. The detail needs to be clarified to ensure this is not open to further viability debate which often slows the planning process.

The planning overhaul is intended to help SME housebuilders, with plans to make the housing industry “more diverse and competitive to drive delivery and higher standards”.

The government has also published a response to its consultation on First Homes, confirming that the new initiative will deliver new homes at a 30% discount in perpetuity to first-time buyers as well as local people and key workers.

Robert Jenrick, Housing secretary said “These once in a generation reforms will lay the foundations for a brighter future, providing more homes for young people and creating better quality neighbourhoods and homes across the country. We will cut red tape, but not standards, placing a higher regard on quality, design and the environment than ever before. Planning decisions will be simple and transparent, with local democracy at the heart of the process.”

Previous governments have made similar efforts to streamline the planning process, but without well resourced Local Authorities and with decision making still vested in unqualified elected committees, it remains to be seen if these changes be effective.

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