Since other topics and issues have taken precedence within the Government this year and we saw Michael Gove take on his new role as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the planning reform agenda seems to have slipped from the list of priorities. Those within the industry were eager to hear what Michael Gove had to say at this year’s Conservative Party Conference but disappointingly he had rather little to say on the topic. It may appear the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) are taking a new approach and reviewing potential changes of the system. At Rosconn Strategic Land, planning reform is an important topic which we keep our eyes on, since it could have a major impact upon our industry. Hence, we have taken a look at what the DLUHC and the HBF (Home Builders Federation) have to say on the topic in our latest news article.
What did the planning reforms suggest?
Since the last significant update to the UK’s planning system was made decades ago in 1947, the new Planning Bill has been designed with reform and modernisation in mind. With proposals of the bill introduced last summer (2020), the Government stated they wanted to simplify the planning system in the UK, removing red tape, helping to speed up the rate of housing development in the UK. Working to meet their targets for the number of new homes being built in England each year.
In the ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper, the following are some suggestions which were put forward by the Government:
Reduce the length of time it takes a development site to be processed through the planning system
Make the planning system more accessible to the public, gaining their trust once more in this system
Modernisation and digitalisation of the system to make this process easier for all involved
Reform the planning system so that it works alongside the Government’s goals for sustainable developments
Response from DLUHC
When speaking at the HBF Policy Conference on 10th November (2021), Chief Planner, Joanna Averley, has dismissed any claims that the reforms have fallen from the Government’s agenda. Although she was unable to provide a definitive time frame for when we can expect a response to the Government’s proposals within the Planning White Paper, put forward over a year ago, she did state that the topic was ‘still on the horizon’ with many proposals already in place.
A ’Pause’ on proposed changes to the Planning System
In his new position Michael Gove said in his comments to the House of Commons Select Committee on 8th November that he would not be abandoning the proposed changes of the planning system. However, he has confirmed there will be a ‘pause’ on when these changes will be made. He has also acknowledged he would like to consider further changes, looking at some of the assumptions put forward last year and considering that these may now be outdated. As a result of COVID-19 and the various lockdowns, the cost of both building materials and labour has increased, so the goal of 300,000 new builds per year may be ambitious.
Gove was, however, able to offer some reassurance around the reforms as he has confirmed some proposals have already been put in place, such as the digitalisation of processes within the planning system.