The Chancellor's new Planning reforms
On Friday, George Osborne announced wide ranging package of reforms to help deliver more homes. Details of the Government's new policies are set out in a 90 page document entitled "Fixing the Foundations" aimed at creating 'a more prosperous nation'.
Chapter 9 deals with planning and includes the following proposed changes:
- Councils are expected to have local plans in place for providing new homes by a specified deadline and where they fail to do so the DCLG will be given powers to intervene and to 'arrange' for local plans to be written in consultation with the public;
- New legislation will be brought in to grant automatic permission in principle for brownfield sites as identified on statutory registers. This will, in effect, introduce a new housing zonal system for brownfield development;
- Changes will be made to the compulsory purchase scheme to make it faster and simpler to encourage local authorities and developers to use such powers to bring forward residential development;
- Major infrastructure projects with an element of housing will be fast tracked though the NSIP regime;
- A dispute resolution service for settling S106 agreements is proposed to short cut protracted negotiations;
- The Mayor will be given extended powers to call-in housing applications for 50 or more homes;
- Permitted development rights will be brought forward to allow for upward extensions for a limited number of storeys to allow construction to the same height as adjoining buildings. However, such rights will only be allowed where neighbours do not object.
The measures proposed are quite extensive and it will be interesting to see how successful they will be. The ability to build higher without need for planning permission is particularly relevant for the highly dense London market but whether it will be possible to eliminate all objections seems ambitious unless of course strong financial incentives are offered. It is also hard to see how a dispute resolution service will help short cut S106 negotiations in practice but if there is a way of arranging such without undue red tape then this may in fact assist in eliminating protracted deadlocks, particularly on viability issues.