6 August 2020

Planning for the future is planning certainty

The Government has released its long awaited planning white paper titled, ‘Planning for the Future'. The consultation asks 26 questions and sets out a package of proposals to reform of the planning system which covers, plan-making, development management, development contributions and other related policy proposals.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB), said: “This consultation vindicates the evidence and solutions that NFB members have been submitting for the last five years. Despite our engagement, councils did not appropriately support changes in the Housing White Paper, NPPF review and Housing Delivery Test, therefore comprehensive reform became inevitable.”

Based on a zoning system, the 82 page consultation makes a number of proposals that may finally ensure builders can get on site more quickly and start solving Britain’s housing crisis.

The three zones the Government has identified are: 

  • For growth - New homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will be automatically permissioned
  • For renewal – ‘Permission in principle’ based on design codes
  • For protection - Preserving protected areas like the green belt, areas of outstanding natural beauty and heritage

To achieve quicker build out and local plan making, a new body will be established to set design codes, which if met, will automatically grant planning permissions.

Planning contributions, such as section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) will finally be amalgamated into a flat rate ‘Infrastructure Levy’, which councils can use for their needs, including affordable housing.

A temporary lifting of the small sites threshold for affordable housing has also been included.

The Government would also like Homes England be given greater powers, which along with design codes and NFBs division of large sites policy, will allow small and medium sized builders (SMEs) and new entrants, such as Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) companies to ensure a more competitive and responsive market.

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning for the House Builders Association (HBA), the house building division of the NFB, said: “For the last five years, we have campaigned for design codes, flat rate planning contributions, better land assembly, especially through Homes England, digitised planning, a greater appreciation of what the best builders, our SMEs deliver and a certain planning system. This consultation delivers all that and more.

There will be many questions, such as whether zoned land assembly follows the German model of stimulating SMEs, if a small sites register can fit in with the ambition and how the democratic process operates in practice but this radical reform is exactly the type of solution based shake up the housing crisis needed.”