New Planning System?

August 10 + later updates: 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 current:

Early changes to the existing planning system: download

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

Download Just Space 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. 

The handling of Equality is shocking – see last page.

Planning for the Future: white paper (corrected link)

Consultation ends 29 October 2020. 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, Conservation 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. Local authorities would have no power to stop 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 as 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, published at 0900h on Monday 10 August. Publication is being hosted by the TCPA. Blog and Report here.
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.

Meanwhile… decarbonising transport

The Department of Transport is doing a consultation on decarbonising transport, with a closing date end of August! Info and analysis from Transport Action Network.

…”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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