September Ponderings

September Professional Ponderings

It is September and it’s the Planning & Development Team’s turn to inject some joy into what has been a rather bizarre 2020 for many of us. Our team has been very busy this year and, even with lockdown, the work has kept coming, including new instructions.


As some of you will know, last month the government published the Planning White Paper – “Planning for the Future”. This consultation document set out the government’s proposals for long term reform within the planning system for England and includes some interesting changes designed to modernise, speed up and simplify planning. Much needed, as I am sure you would agree! Particularly as regards speeding up the process.


Rather than bore you with reams of detail, I summarise the main points below and should you wish to discuss further, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Planning & Development Team.


The White Paper proposes changing the planning system from a discretionary system to a rule-based system, while allowing an element of creativity and flexibility within the process. Changes would include Local Plans being reviewed every 5 years, with housing need and land availability being at the forefront of the agenda. A Zoning system would be introduced, identifying land in three categories: - Growth, Renewal and Protection areas.


There are proposed changes to planning agreements and Community Infrastructure Levy, with the introduction of an ‘Infrastructure Levy’ either across all areas, or specific rates depending on location. This Infrastructure Levy would look to capture change of use through PD (Permitted Development) Rights, which has previously been excluded. With the proposed removal of S106 obligations, the reformed Infrastructure Levy is intended to deliver affordable housing, although the detail/mechanisms of how this will be achieved is yet to be provided.


Whilst the White Paper proposals will take time to come into force, the government realises the need to make changes to the current planning system. These changes include how housing need is assessed and will place statutory obligations on authorities to deliver their annual housing requirements. The government are also looking to support small/medium sized housebuilders, by lifting the need to provide affordable housing on smaller sites. In addition to this, Permission in Principle applications are being extended to include major developments.


The consultation on the White Paper runs until 29th October, while the consultation on the changes to the current planning system closes on 1st October 2020.


I hope the above isn’t too dry and should you wish to discuss the above, or any planning related matter, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Planning & Development Team, as we would be happy to advise.


Tristan Peck

Chartered Surveyor


(NB. Just a word of warning from an older head.  Throughout my career, every 5 to 10 years, the government of the day has proposed changes to “speed up and simplify” the planning system.  Much hot air is expended and many trees are converted into parliamentary reports while generally, changes end up being watered down. Perhaps this time will be different! However, changes to the planning system always create opportunities and that’s what we hope to identify and help clients with. Alistair Brodie).


Bletsoes’ Planning & Development Team

Alistair Brodie       –       Peter Moore       –       Andrew Middleditch       –       Tristan Peck

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