Briefing: Planning Reform Consultations
The government announced two consultations in August this year which together, would result in the biggest changes to our planning system since the Town and Country Planning Act was introduced in 1971.
The Planning for the Future White Paper consultation runs until 29th October.
Its proposals mean a major upheaval of the planning system. The proposals have prompted widespread opposition across a wide range of interested parties, including local planning authorities of all political hues.
The major concerns include; the fear of a loss of local democracy with local authorities left powerless to prevent developers cherry-picking green field sites whilst leaving brownfield land unused and the likelihood that the proposed reforms would have negative impacts on the delivery of affordable housing and access to green space.
The proposals to introduce a zonal planning system would weaken protection of green space designated for growth or renewal, and offer no additional safeguards for those earmarked for protection.
‘Protected’ areas will be those with site designations such as Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and Conservation Areas, giving no consideration to the importance of undesignated green spaces near to where people live.
The Changes to the current planning system consultation runs until 1st October 2020.
The proposed changes are focused on the introduction of a new Standard Method for calculating local housing need for each local authority area, which brazenly abandons an evidence-based approach.
Crispin Truman, chief executive of CPRE, comments that ‘governing by algorithm simply doesn’t work. We are in the midst of a housing crisis, and we need many more well designed, genuinely affordable homes, including in rural areas. But combining this algorithm with far reaching, untested reforms to local planning, could result in irreparable harm to our countryside, without delivering the housing we actually need.’
Whilst the Government professes to want house-building to support the levelling up of the UK economy, the new methodology pushes the highest rates of growth to where existing demand is highest.
In addition, the Government appears to believe that reducing the delivery of affordable housing is a fair price to pay in the short term for boosting the number of homes built by SME developers.
Read our full response to both consultations: Planning Reforms Briefing September 2020