Planning for the Future

The Secretary of State for Housing and Planning has, this morning, made a major statement in the House of Commons. 

Redeveloping a vacant building with new residential developments may become a permitted development right, according to proposals from Secretary of State Robert Jenrick this morning. He stated that the right would apply to vacant commercial, industrial and residential blocks, and the new development must be well designed and meet natural light standards. A permitted development right to extend upwards by two storeys is promised by the summer.

Jenrick’s statement confirmed the government’s policy aim is to support younger people to own homes, and that housing delivery is seen as the most crucial part. He announced a review of the formula saying how many new homes each council must plan for, with a steer that it will increase numbers in urban areas; there was talk of a national map of brownfield sites to allow developers to find them. The focus on transport hubs has produced a call for proposals above and around railway stations.

Councils have been told to have their local plans in place by December 2023, with a warning that the government will intervene if they don’t. The government is going to expand use of zoning and local development orders. Planning fees are to be linked to council performance; councils will hope that allows an increase; fees will be refunded if developers are successful at appeal. The government is also promising to move to a digital planning system.

Jenrick also confirmed recommendations from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission will be brought in (he talked of tree-lined streets becoming the norm, and updating the NPPF to add good design and placemaking). Although the Conservative manifesto said development would require infrastructure in place before, the statement saw that infrastructure as coming from central government funds rather than linking it to planning permissions.

There may be up to four new Development Corporations in an ‘Oxford-Cambridge Arc, possibly around StNeots/Sandy, Bedford, Cambourne and Cambridge.

Further details on the government’s ideas to simplify and speed up the planning system are expected “in the spring” Planning white paper. The policy paper for this morning’s announcement can be found below.