New Planning Bill Highlights Undersupply of New Homes and Inadequate Local Plans

Planning

A Bill aimed at ‘modernising England’s planning system’ was announced in the Queen’s Speech in May.

As justification, a background briefing note points out that under current arrangements:

1) only around 41 per cent of Local Authorities had an up-to-date local plan in place in 2021

2) the process of updating them took an average of 7 years, and

3) adopted Local Plans, where they are in place, provided for 192,725 homes per year across England in March 2021 significantly below the government’s target for 300,000 new homes annually

It has therefore reached the conclusion that the current system does not allow enough homes to be built and says that as a result of this long-term and persistent undersupply, housing is becoming increasingly expensive.

It is thought the Planning Bill will be brought forward in Parliament in the autumn, bringing together the government’s planning white paper ‘Planning for the Future’, published in August 2020, and the consultation responses to it.

We covered the white paper in ourFebruary Newsletter. It sets out proposals to:

·      Change local plans so that they provide more certainty over the type, scale and design of development permitted on different categories of land.

·      Significantly decrease the time it takes for developments to go through the planning system.

·      Replace existing systems for funding affordable housing and infrastructure from development with a new more predictable and more transparent levy, and

·      Using post-Brexit freedoms to simplify and enhance the framework for environmental assessments for developments.

Other suggestions brought up during consultation might also be included in the Bill and as an example we can report that ‘Flood Re’ and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) are already lobbying government to make sure that promised new homes are not builtin areas at risk of flooding.

In a joint letter to ‘The Times’ they said that as homes built after 2009 are not included in the Flood Re scheme, which makes flood insurance more affordable. The Planning Bill is an opportunity to redress this and ensure new housing is located away from flood risk areas in the first place.

Many industry leaders and media have been pretty disparaging of the new bill, with the likes of Planning BIM & Construction Today reporting the housing, communities and local government committee (HCLG) has warned that the government’s proposed planning system reforms ‘lack detail’. Read the full article here.

It remains to be seen whether the new measures outlined in the Bill will be sufficient to change the current status quo, as it has to be said, previous Governments have all tried and failed to redress the delays inherent in the planning system for some time. Let’s hope better progress is made this time.  

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