What gets built and where

Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

Places to live that are good for people and nature

The places we live should provide us with access to everything we need for a good quality of life. It’s just common sense. We’re working with local partners and urging the government to create well-designed, vibrant places that people want to live in – with the homes people need, great public transport links and easy access to work, leisure and nature.

Planning for the Future

Our planning team have completed their work and have submitted their response to the Government’s White Paper, “Planning for the Future” to the Planning Inspectorate.

 Read our response here.

See the Wildlife Trust’s response here.

August 2020:

Thanks to Joey Gardiner of Housing Today for his succinct summary which details ten of its key features. The article is shown below:


“Ten things you need to know about the planning white paper

Government’s planning white paper sets out to radically reform the system

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1. Zoning

Under the new system, local authorities will have to bring forward stripped back local plans zoning all land in their areas for “growth”, “renewal” or “protection”. Areas zoned for growth will accommodate “substantial development” and will benefit from outline permission, but developers will still need to secure reserved matters permission in accordance with a locally drawn up design codes – though councils won’t be able to debate the principle of the scheme

2. Renewal

Areas zoned for renewal will be seen as suitable for some development, such as densification and infill development, and will benefit from a statutory “presumption in favour” of development. Schemes that accord with locally-drawn up design codes will benefit from a “fast-track for beauty” recommended by the government’s Building Better Building Beautiful Commission.

3. Stripped back local plans

Local authorities will have 30 months to produce a new-style stripped back local plan, down from a current average of seven years. While the new plans will be more powerful in that they will confer planning permission to “growth” sites, councils will lose the ability to set local policies. Instead, all planning policy will be set nationally with  local plans restricted to development allocation and the specific codes and standards to be applied to projects in the development zones. The plan should include “an interactive web-based map of the administrative area where data and policies are easily searchable”, with colour-coded maps reflecting the zoning, key and accompanying text setting out “suitable development uses, as well as limitations on height and/or density as relevant” within the zones

4. Section 106 scrapped

The existing system of developer contributions is to end. Section 106 agreements will be scrapped, while the existing Community Infrastructure Levy will be morphed into a nationally-set levy on development value that the government says will bring in at least as more or more in the way of developer contributions as the existing system. The levy will be paid at the point of occupation, leaving councils to pay for and deliver any infrastructure needed up front. Councils will be allowed to borrow against future levy receipts to fund this.

5. Top down housing targets

The government plans to reimpose top-down housing targets on local authorities, a decade after the coalition government’s first communities secretary, Eric Pickles removed them, deriding them as “soviet-style tractor targets”. The government now envisages that every local authority will be bound by targets set by a renewed “standard method” for calculating housing need. The standard method will be based on how many existing homes are in an area, the projected rise in households, and changes in affordability.

6. “Duty to co-operate” ditched

Given the imposition of a top-down target, councils will no longer have a duty to co-operate with each other over the drawing up of local plans, as the numbers will be set by government. Numbers will take into account the presence of constraints on growth, such as green belt, but the White Paper didn’t say how this will be done.

7. Protection

Areas zoned as “protected” will essentially continue with the existing planning process, with all existing Green Belt and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and similar such designations remaining in force. Importantly, areas of open countryside with no specific wildlife or landscape protections currently can be designated “protected”

8. New design code body

A new body is to be set up to be given the role of supporting local authorities in the creation of local design codes, and each local authority will be expected to employ a chief officer for design and place-making to oversee quality. Local design codes must have community input to be valid.

9. More permitted development

Within the “renewal” areas, certain pre-approved development types – such as the densification of suburban semis – will be given automatic pre-approval via new permitted development rights. These new PD rights will also have to take account of local design codes

10. Digital planning

Public involvement in local planning is to be hugely expanded by digitising the service, to allow much easier public access to planning documents. These will be published online line in standardised formats with “digitally consumable rules and data”, allowing people to respond to consultations on their smartphones. Authorities will be asked to use an “open data” approach, with the aim being to move the system from one based on documents to one based on data.”

 

Don’t let planning deregulation lead to poor quality housing, says CPRE:

As calls grow for more cuts to the rules for planning and developing buildings, we warn against the hazards of rushing towards deregulation.

There have today been reports of calls from senior government aides for major reforms to the planning system, furthering changes to planning rules brought in during the coronavirus pandemic to aid rapid building during the crisis.

Tom Fyans, our Campaigns and Policy Director, comments on this move towards deregulation, warning of the risk of allowing a slide towards poor quality housing.

‘The deregulation drumbeat is getting louder, but we know from bitter experience the issue is not the planning system making things hard to build. It’s currently far too easy to build poor quality housing – our research with University College London (UCL) shows that over three-quarters of large new housing developments built in the past decade have been mediocre or poor and should never have been given planning permission.

‘We’re also in real danger of creating a whole new generation of car-dependent estates in the middle of nowhere if the government persists with deregulation and lax planning policies.’

The need for good design – for people and planet

CPRE worked with campaigners Place Alliance, based at UCL, in early 2020 to release a report about the design of housing built across the country. Our findings were bleak, with 94% of housing developments audited in rural areas not meeting the standards that should have been ensured for approval.

Any loosening of planning rules risks more of these unsuitable developments, which give a poorer quality of life for residents, slipping through, as well as greater harm to the green spaces that we’ve come to appreciate more than ever during the 2020 lockdown.

‘The planning system is the unsung hero for protecting many green spaces that have been a haven for people through lockdown’, commented Fyans. ‘The protection and improvement of our Green Belts and other countryside next door, which the government has already pledged, must be the priority.

‘We must empower local communities and raise standards for delivering well-connected, zero-carbon new homes that are linked to public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure. Only by making the planning system more robust and better-funded will the government begin to improve it’s already dismal track record on delivering quality and genuinely affordable housing.’

Passionate about planning? We’d really like it if you can add your voice to ours. Please click here now to ask your MP to defend our democratic planning system.