Prime minister Boris Johnson who has described the existing planning system as a “relic” that’s “outdated and ineffective” says the new proposals are “unlike anything we have seen since the second world war”.

In a report published today titled Planning for the Future, the government details plans for upcoming changes to the planning system in England.

The Planning for the Future report and a consultation process which closes on the 1st of October proposes major reforms of the English planning system to “streamline and modernise the planning process, bring a new focus to design and sustainability, improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed.”

The changes will be of concern to anyone involved in converting, building and developing properties in England and promise to remove some of the existing planning process bureaucracy to speed up the process in the future.

Plans were already in train to expand permitted development rights announced recently by Housing minister Robert Jenrick, but the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is less than impressed with this branding these proposals “a disgrace”.

Doubtless the government puts forward these proposals in its report with the best of intentions for the planning system in England, when Johnson says, “The whole thing is beginning to crumble and the time has come to do what too many have for too long lacked the courage to do – tear it down and start again.” However there is likely to be strong opposition from many stakeholders, politicians and the general public before any changes can be agreed and set into firm legislation.

Briefly, the proposals include automatic approval for designated areas and the following points to be incorporated:

  • The redrawing local plans produced by the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to categorise land into only one of these three categories: growth, renewal or protected.
  • Planning to be “automatically secured” for areas categorised for growth. Some developments would be allowed in renewal areas but restricted in protected zones.
  • Local authorities to be bound by a new national requirement for the number of new homes to be built in their areas.
  • The planning approval process to be overhauled and sped-up so that projects get through in under 30 months or be sanctioned.
  • A “fast-track for beauty” process to grant automatic permits for “proposals for high-quality developments where they reflect local character and preferences”.
  • The “Building Better, Building Beautiful” developments that comply with local design codes to be guaranteed faster planning permission.
  • “Pattern books” and style guides for “popular and replicable designs” to be used for permitted developments and schemes in land designated for renewal.
  • Section 106 payments (obligations on developers to contribute to local amenities and improvements as part of planning approval agreements) to be replaced by an infrastructure levy.
  • There would be discounts for developers building affordable homes.
  • Local authorities would be allowed to borrow money against their infrastructure levy revenue to fund their projects.

A major thrust of the report calls for greater use to be made of data and digital technology by local authorities were local residents can view and respond to maps and visualisations of upcoming development proposals online. From there, decision-making should be faster and more certain, within firm deadlines, says the report.

The RIBA has highlighted its concerns about the proposed changes, calling for “urgent reconsideration” of proposals to deregulate planning. “Deregulation is not the way to bring about new homes,” said RIBA president Alan Jones.

Want to know more about these planning proposals and the likely outcomes for property investors? See details of the upcoming Planning Masterclass Webinar here Property Investor News – – by experts Richard Bower (Editor) and David Kemp (planning specialist)

Open consultation – Planning for the Future

Changes to the current planning system

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