Proposed changes to the Planning system

Updated November 2022

Planning matters feature as part of The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill now being scrutinised by Parliament.   There are some good ideas concerning the forced letting of empty High St shops; a new planning tool called a “neighbourhood priorities statement”, intended to provide communities with a simpler way to set out their key priorities and preferences for their local areas; and a Design Code to be developed for the whole of each Local Authority area setting out expectations on the scale and appearance of any proposed developments.

A proposal to make permanent existing temporary powers requiring developers to consult the local community before making a planning application superficially looks very attractive, but only applies to certain categories, and so far has only been used for wind farms.  This ought to go much further.

A questionable proposal is the concept of street votes for community led “gentle densification” of urban areas should residents desire this.  Given our experience of how residents respond to any proposed densification in their areas we suspect this idea will turn out to be a damp squib.

The proposal we find least desirable is the intention to introduce a suite of National Development Management Policies which will be the basis on which planning applications will be determined “unless there are considerations that strongly indicate otherwise”.  This is likely to mean that Local Authorities will have little scope to set planning rules according to local circumstances and Planning Committees are likely to have more limited discretion in determining applications.  The voices of residents may be rendered largely invalid under prescriptive rules dictated from above.

BRA   June 2022, updated November 2022