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10th August 2020

Government White Paper on Planning Reform – “Planning for the Future”

I thought it might be useful doing a quick note on this subject that has been in the news a lot the last few days. As with many of these government announcements I now have clients contacting me thinking that they are going to get some automatic planning permission granted at some time in the very near future. That is not the case.

The Government White Paper has been prepared setting out some primary proposals for a radical reform of the planning system. We have seen this sort of thing before but this time they are even more radical. This paper has been released and is now subject to a 12-week consultation.

In terms of Local Plans, it talks about stripping them back with lots more detail held at national level so that the Local Plans don’t take as long to produce and that each Local Authority is bound by the same general principles. The Local Plan will then be a map with the Local Authority individual designations marked upon it. There will still be words in the document but the land will fall into one of three categories and these will be as follows:

1) Growth – This will be for substantial areas and items of build this, for example, could be like the Bailrigg Garden Village at Lancaster, North West Preston or the substantial proposals to extend Skelmesdale in West Lancashire. At least that this what I envisage them to be although the detail isn’t overly clear at this stage and it is only still a consultation. In effect, these proposal areas will be granted automatic outline planning permission for the specified use. The detailed planning application will then be overlaid.

2) Renewal – Here, there will be a presumption in favour of development for certain uses and these uses will be pre-defined. There will still need to be a full planning application made here. This is intended for existing built areas where smaller scale development is appropriate, more likely to be areas around existing settlements.

3) Protected – This will be the rest of the land within the Local Plan area.

Sustainability of development will still be a major theme.

Affordable housing and Developer contributions – The current regimes of Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payments will be scrapped and replaced with a new “infrastructure levy”. This will be charged according to the final development value of the project and paid at the point of occupation. Council’s will be able to borrow against the future levy payments to bring infrastructure in early.

Timescale – There is going to be a 30-month timeline for the new Local Plans to be written, if this all gets adopted by government. Remember, it is only a White Paper at this stage.

What is perhaps going to be more important is the housing number consultation which is proposed. It is proposed that the Government will define a set target for the country of, say, 300,000 homes and then this will be split, by the Government, into fixed numbers for each Local Authority. There won’t be grey areas where they can underperform or overperform, they will have to hit the numbers. It is expected that this will be very controversial, but it should remove the political nature of things.

One other potential pitfall might be tax, if you were to be given the “automatic outline planning” does the land go up in value and create a tax issue? Even if you don’t want the land to be developed?

Just a few thoughts that will hopefully help out. So, if you have any queries please get in touch.

David Cowburn BSc (Hons) FRICS FAAV
Director – Cowburn Land

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