The government has proposed a raft of new planning reforms for the New Year.
Homebuilding & Renovating quoted Housing Secretary Michael Gove, who has said the planning system is “not working as it should” as he unveiled new planning reforms as part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.
They said: “The government’s long-awaited planning reforms are expected to streamline the planning process, making it easier to release more land for housing and to obtain planning permission.”
With the shortage of available housing continuing to hit the headlines, improvements in the planning process have been suggested as one way in which the government could help to facilitate more housebuilding.
Inadequate resourcing of planning was “the biggest barrier to housing delivery”
As reported by Property Week, a Federation of Master Builders survey recently found inadequate resourcing of planning was the biggest barrier to housing delivery.
The Levelling up and Regeneration Bill is currently being passed through the House of Commons and includes the following changes (highlighted by Homebuilding & Renovating):
- National housing targets remain but there will be new flexibilities to reflect local circumstances.
- Green Belt protections will be strengthened, although it is currently unclear how.
- Brownfield land will be prioritised for development, with the government launching a review into how such sites are used.
- Local authorities will be able to set a new Infrastructure Levy – designed to replace Section 106 – so varying levy rates for self builders and renovators seeking planning permission can be set across differing areas. Mr Gove says this could help to lower rates on brownfield land and increase brownfield development.
- Neighbourhood plans – a way for communities to have a say in the future of the places where they live – will be strengthened where a plan has evidently been part of a wider local authority development for five years, instead of two.
- New penalties will be issued to slow developers failing to build already-approved homes.
- The obligation on local authorities to maintain a rolling five-year supply of land for housing will end, providing local plans are up-to-date.
Advantage’s view: While planning reforms don’t generally attract all that much attention outside of the construction sector, the controversy over whether to set national housebuilding targets has been a notable exception. By making the implementation of targets more flexible, many will feel that Michael Gove has watered down his housebuilding plans. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether other proposed changes will have a significant impact on the number of new homes delivered over the coming years.