InSite | Planning bill aims to get houses built quickly

Planning bill aims to get houses built quickly and in the right areas

The planning bill is set to overhaul the rules that determine housebuilding and land use in England. It aims to speed up the planning process and support councils to meet the government’s housebuilding target of 300,000 new homes each year. New legislation on planning is considered long overdue as the current system is based on the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 and no longer fit for purpose.


Under the current system, local planning officials assess applications on a case-by-case basis. The proposed changes would replace this with a zone-based approach. The country would be divided up by local councils into three categories: growth areas 'suitable for substantial development', renewal areas 'suitable for some development' and protected areas, such as green belt and areas of natural beauty, where development would be restricted.


In the growth areas, automatic planning permission would be granted for applications that conform to pre-agreed planning rules for new homes, hospitals, schools, offices and shops. It is suggested that making these changes could halve the time it takes to secure planning permission on larger sites.


Local plans would contain clear rules with design codes and site- and area-specific requirements to encourage a much greater focus on design quality. Local residents would be able to have a say on the initial plans for the zones, but not when it came down to individual planning applications.


The Planning for the future whitepaper, published in August 2020, laid out the reforms:


  • Local communities will be consulted from the very beginning of the planning process
  • Valued green spaces will be protected for future generations by allowing for more building on brownfield land and all new streets to be tree-lined
  • Much-needed homes will be built quicker by ensuring local housing plans are developed and agreed in 30 months – down from the current seven years
  • Every area to have a local plan in place – currently only 50% of local areas has a plan to build more homes
  • The planning process to be overhauled and replaced with a clearer, rules based system. Currently around a third of planning cases that go to appeal are overturned at appeal
  • A new simpler national levy to replace the current system of developer contributions which often causes delay
  • The creation of a fast-track system for beautiful buildings and establishing local design guidance for developers to build and preserve beautiful communities
  • An ambition that new ‘zero carbon ready’ homes delivered under the new system will not require any future retrofitting


Read the Planning for the future whitepaper.


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