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“Planning for the Future”- Controversial government planning proposals under the microscope

The Government has today released its new consultation on the comprehensive reform of the planning sector. The ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper proposes dramatic and swingeing changes to the way planning permission works in England, pursuing what it describes as “streamlining and modernisation”.

The plans would implement a new ‘zoning’ system with land classified into three separate zones with planning permission to be given automatically if certain criteria are met. The new system would mean the abolition of local plans, in favour of “design codes” and housing plans which could be arrived at within 30 months.

With the housing shortage proving to be a persistent and difficult to tackle problem, you might think these plans would be welcomed across the board, but despite government attempts to pitch them as a sensible approach to free up land, the battle-lines are already being drawn with a diverse range of organisations lining up to criticise them as unnecessary and disruptive. The government, it seems will be fighting every inch.

One of the most significant changes would be the removal of multiple layers of opportunities for local people to have input into their local areas. Instead of having an opportunity at multiple levels to comment on plans and individual developments, the new system would limit public contributions largely to the planning stage, and would put a focus on an online/digital planning system. As the document says “Residents will no longer have to rely on planning notices attached to lamp posts, printed in newspapers and posted in libraries to find out about newly proposed developments.”

Naturally, the Institute is very interested in what the government has planned, and it seems clear that the changes will be intensely controversial. Over the next couple of weeks, the Institute will be drilling down into the detail of the plans to work out exactly what they would mean for planners and communities, and to determine how we should respond to the most seismic proposals for change in planning law for decades.

About the Author

Stephen serves as the Institute’s Legal and Parliamentary Officer. Before joining the Institute Stephen studied Law at Bangor University and pursued a Masters’ degree in Aviation and Space Law at McGill University in Montreal. After this, he returned to London and was called to the bar in 2016 at the Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn, before deciding not to go into practice and move towards public policy work instead. Within the Institute, Stephen provides legal, political and policy analysis of UK and global current affairs of interest to consultors and consultees.

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