Fixing the Foundations: Creating a More Prosperous Nation

Earlier today, in Birmingham, Business Secretary Sajid Javid unveiled plans to move planning forward and to make it easier to build homes as part of a broader move to boost Britain’s productivity. The latest set of reforms, which are again aimed at getting the country building, are a result of the inability to build enough homes. Whilst the Government during their election campaign promised to protect localism, some of the latest changes appear to be contrary to this ethos. As such, whilst the move has been broadly welcomed by developers, the plans, some of which are a move to more centralisation, are likely to be seen as an attack on local communities having their say. Under the new proposals, the details of which still need to be clarified, automatic planning consent is set to be granted for housing schemes on brownfield land. In London, additionally, the Government want to remove the need for planning permission to extend upwards – as obviously building basements hasn’t been controversial enough! In addition to this will be further targets and sanctions for Councils that do not deal with applications or Local Plans quickly enough. The Government are even threatening to intervene and write the plans themselves! An overview of what is being proposed is noted below: Releasing Land for Homes • The Government will ensure local authorities put local plans in place by a set deadline (which is to be confirmed). The Government will then publish league tables highlighting local authority’s progress on providing the plans. • The Secretary of State and Local Government will intervene for those local authorities that do not produce them and will arrange for local plans to be written. • The Government will bring forward proposals to streamline the length and process of local plans, in order to speed up the implementation process of a plan. • The Government is also going to consider how policy can support higher density housing around key commuter hubs and how commercial land can be released for housing. ‘Zonal’ System for Brownfield Land • The Government is clear on the need to promote brownfield land and is already committed to legislating for statutory registers of brownfield land suitable for housing in England. • The Government will now grant automatic planning permission in principle on brownfield sites identified on those registers – subject to approval of a limited number of technical details. This will give England a ‘zonal’ system in order to reduce delay and uncertainty for brownfield development. Improving the Planning Process • Legislate to allow major infrastructure projects with an element of housing to apply through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Regime (NSIP). • Tighten the planning performance regime and legislate to extend the performance regime to minor applications. • Introduce a fast track certificate process and significantly tighten the ‘planning guarantee’ for minor applications. • Introduce a dispute resolution mechanism for section 106 agreements, to speed up negotiations and allow housing starts to proceed more quickly. More Devolved Planning Powers • The Government will look into bringing in proposals to allow the Mayor of London to call in planning applications of 50 homes or more. • Proposals will be brought forward to remove the need for permission upwards extensions for a limited number of stories up to the height of an adjoining building. • Proposals to allow the Mayor of Greater Manchester to produce Development Corporations, and promote Compulsory Purchase Orders will be brought forward. The fine detail has yet to be published, but as ever we will be advising developers, investors and landowners on how to interpret and best use the amended regulations as and when they are confirmed. LINK: Fixing the Foundations: Creating a More Prosperous Nation (PDF Opens in New Window)