Legislation to fundamentally reform England’s planning system has been announced in the Queen’s speech. A new Planning Bill is expected in the autumn to “modernise the planning system, so that more houses can be built.”
The Planning Bill is expected to introduce new planning zones, with land categorised as being for ‘growth’, ‘protection’ or ‘renewal’. Land zoned for ‘growth’ would receive automatic initial planning permission if the proposals met local rules. Development in ‘protection’ zones would generally be restricted, while councils would be expected to look favourably on development plans in ‘renewal’ areas.
The bill is also expected to sweep away the Section 106 system, which requires developers to meet local requirements or contribute to infrastructure as a condition of planning permission. This is likely to be replaced with a new ‘Infrastructure Levy’.
The government says the Bill will “create a simpler, faster and more modern planning system, ensuring homes and infrastructure can be delivered more quickly across England”. However the plans have proved controversial.
Andrew Whitaker of the Home Builders’ Federation strongly supports the concept behind growth areas, which Russell Pedley of housing architect Assael described as the most progressive reforms seen in years. However Crispin Truman of countryside charity CPRE, warned that the changes “would effectively halve democratic input in planning” and former Prime Minister, Theresa May, argued the plans would lead to “the wrong homes being built in the wrong places”.
James Burgoyne of Brunel Professions said: “Many construction professionals will benefit from any future expansion in house building and the development of new infrastructure. However significant changes in regulations can also bring risk, increasing the potential for mistakes and consequently claims. Professionals must take great care to understand and closely follow the new rules once the government’s planned legislation is passed.”
The Queen’s Speech has been published on the government website. Reports and commentary about the proposals have been published by Housing Today, the BBC, Forsters, the Local Government Association, and others.