New Planning System?

August 10 + later updates through October 2020: The UK government is preparing a number of major changes to the Town and Country Planning System in England (not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland where devolved bodies make these decisions). We shall add material to this page in the coming weeks to help member groups in London to prepare responses, so this is a good post to bookmark: click on the heading above first. Please do contribute.
A number of consultations are finished and have been moved to the bottom of the page. This is the big one remaining:

Planning for the Future: white paper Consultation ends 29 October 2020 2345h.

This is the Just Space response to the consultation, submitted on 28th October.

Deadline is close. All members / groups are urged to submit comments – brief or detailed – to the consultation page linked above at white paper.

Just Space briefing on the white paper, download PDF:

Paper by volunteer Jo Pearce on the zoning aspect of the White Paper, citing some international experience. Download PDF.

Final submissions now coming in.
Bartlett School of Planning: 19 academics critical of the White Paper but finding some potential positivesl. Short summary + 500 word version + 22,000 word full version.

Our summary of the White Paper:
Proposes major long-term changes to the 1947 system: Government would define 3 simple zones, local plans would be much simplified, identifying which land should be zoned for growth (new building), which for protection (Green Belts, Conllservation Areas, etc) and which for renewal. Owners of land would have an entitlement to develop any uses provided that their project conformed to the rules of the zone except in protection areas where the old system would continue. Local authorities would have no power to stop conforming developments, only to check they conform to design rules (not yet formulated). Much is written about the design rules (mostly about ‘beauty’), though not about transport, accessibility or safety. These changes would focus all community participation at the local plan making stage and prevent it at the planning permission stage (except perhaps for some design details).

The white paper also proposes to sweep away Section106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy, replacing them both with a single new Levy designed to pay for (some) infrastructure and ‘affordable’ housing. Social housing is not mentioned, nor is council housing, but the 30% discounts which developers will be required to give to first-time-buyers would count towards payment of the levy. The Levy would be fixed by national government at a fixed % of development value (or perhaps regionally varied rates). Small schemes would be exempt; so would all developments in ‘low value’ parts of England.

In the coming weeks there will be much debate about these proposals, indeed it has already started in newspapers, online and among campaign groups. The tag #PlanningReform is being used on Twitter.

Some of the country’s leading university experts on planning have got together to write an initial critique, The wrong answers to the wrong questions: Countering the misconceptions driving the Government’s planning reform agenda. Publication is being hosted by the TCPA. Blog and Report here.
23 October: another (overlapping) group of professional planning experts blogs very critically about the White Paper.
24 October: Lawyer Simon Ricketts summarises what he has learned from endless webinars since the White Paper appeared in August. Confirms many worst fears.
26 October: draft submission by London Forum. Very well worth reading.
Duncan Bowie talk to LTF meeting. Strongly recommended
The planning lawyer Simon Ricketts has written to point out that the white paper authors haven’t thought about London or the London Plan.
Dr Laurie Macfarlane (UCL) writes in OpenDemocracy
Dr Ben Clifford writes in The Conversation
Good history of S106 – Crook, Whitehead etc evidence to parliamentary committee 2018
CPRE video 9 minutes about the white paper. Recommended
An Oxford community/environment group (POETS) response:
Royal Town Planning Institute RTPI paper on zoning in various countries.
Review by Julia Park in Building Design (register, but free)

Early changes to the existing planning system: download

A modification to the present planning system is being proposed, in a consultation on 4 changes, closed 1 October.

Just Space response to changes to the current planning system. Do use this as raw material for your own submission – due by 11.45pm Thursday 1 October. Submission instructions are on the download page of in the heading above.

Download Just Space earlier briefing on this consultation, including a draft response to assist community groups in London:

In a nutshell: A revision is proposed to the Standard Method by which housing need is calculated for localities. This is of limited immediate importance for London but highlights the political challenge facing government and the need for proper regional planning.

Government proposals for ‘First Homes’ (homes to buy at 30% off) to be a quarter of the ‘affordable’ housing in any S106 agreement. This will be an attack on the production of affordable rent tenures and a boost for developer profits.

A proposal to raise the threshold below which housing schemes are not required to contribute a % of affordable homes from 10 homes to 40 or 50 would produce big losses of affordable homes and another profit boost for site owners.

Just Space has clear and long-standing policies which mean that we should oppose both of these proposed changes.  

A third proposed change would extend Permission in Principle to larger schemes but we don’t think this is an issue in London and we have never taken a view about it. However, where such sites are being considered for development, uses of density and (separately) height MUST be scrutinised carefully so Outline Planning Permission should be used instead.

Submission by the London Tenants Federation
Submission from the London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies
Here an outstandingly good short critique of the new formula by Rosie Pearson
Submission by Civic Voice (previously the Civic Trust
Kensington Society Submission

…”key worker” housing in London. The Mayor of London says that ‘intermediate’ housing in London will be targeted at ‘key workers’ but the London Tenants Federation points out that most couldn’t afford anything more expensive than council rents. Their interim response is here.

Pavement parking: government consultation on whether to change the law in favour of pedestrians, disabled people, buggies. Deadline 22 November

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