The government announced on Friday a fresh wave of changes to the planning system in a document entitled “Fixing the foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation”. Among those changes announced are;
Automatic Permissions for Brownfield Land – Sites included in the planned statutory registers of brownfield land (announced earlier this year) suitable for housing will effectively be automatically given planning permission in a new “zonal system”.
The productivity plan says that the government will legislate to grant automatic permission in principle on brownfield sites identified on those registers, subject to the approval of a limited number of technical details.
Previous attempts to reform outline permissions have tried to achieve similar ends, but ended up becoming more detailed and Local Development Orders (LDOs) are currently available for a similar purpose, but are little used, so it is difficult to see what this reform will add.
The plan also promises additional proposals in the autumn to change the compulsory purchase system “to allow local authorities and others to drive forward and shape brownfield development”, over and above those consulted on in the Spring.
Higher Density around “Hubs”– The plan says the government will “work with mayors in London and across the country to use new powers in the Devolution Bill to use development corporations to deliver higher-density development in designated areas”. The government will consider “how policy can support higher density housing around key commuter hubs.
The government will also consider how national policy and guidance can ensure that unneeded commercial land can be released for housing”.
Mayoral Powers – The document confirms the government’s intention to proceed with devolution of wharves and sightlines to the mayor of London, “and will also look to bring forward proposals to allow the mayor to call in planning applications of 50 homes or more, allowing him to support more planning applications that will help to meet London’s needs.
Build Up Permitted Development – The document also says that “helping London to ‘build up’ will reduce the need to ‘build out’”, and the government will work with the mayor of London “to bring forward proposals to remove the need for planning permission for upwards extensions for a limited number of stories up to the height of an adjoining building, where neighbouring residents do not object. In cases where objections are received, the application will be considered in the normal way, focussed on the impact on the amenity to neighbours.
No timescales are provided to indicate a timescale for implementation of these measures. The full document can be read here