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Planning for the future
24 August 2020

The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have recently made several announcements relating to planning contained within a document entitled ‘Planning for the Future’.

 The key headlines are:

  • The promotion of more well-planned development where new homes are needed.
  • Assurance that enough land is made available to deliver homes in the right places.
  • Deliver on the Government’s commitment to provide infrastructure to ensure that adequate infrastructure is in place e.g transport, schools, hospitals and utilities in conjunction with new developments coming forward.
  • Speeding up the planning system with a new planning fee structure.
  • Encouraging the principles of good design and place-making through production of National and Local Design Codes and Guides.

Future Homes Standard

A new standard for design and construction of new homes is to be introduced from 2025 which will require reduction of up to 80% carbon emissions for all new homes.

To achieve these goals the Government will bring forward a series of major publications and introduce legislation to deliver lasting change. The first of those publications will be a Planning White Paper which is scheduled to be published in the Spring (delayed from last Autumn) which is designed to “modernise” the planning system.  Alongside the white paper, a building safety bill will be introduced and a renters’ reform bill to provide greater stability for those who rent their homes.

Other headlines will include:

  • The aim of investing up to £400 million to use brownfield land productively.
  • The launch of a national brownfield map.
  •  A call for proposals for building above stations or major transport hubs.
  • Review of the formula for calculating local housing need.
  • New Permitted Development Rights on existing buildings to extend residential blocks by up to two storeys.
  • A consultation on the detail of the new Permitted Development Right to allow vacant commercial buildings, industrial buildings and residential blocks to be demolished and replaced with well-designed new residential units.
  • Further support for those who want to build their own homes to find suitable plots of land.

Oxford to Cambridge Arc

The Government said it is backing the creation of a growth corridor within the Oxford to Cambridge Arc including a new spatial framework which will show where new housing and employment will be delivered up to 2050.  Further examination is going to be undertaken for the creation of up to four new development corporations within the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, likely to be located close to Bedford, St Neots/Sandy, Cambourne and Cambridge.

In terms of delivery of new homes, the Government will require all local planning authorities to have up to date Local Plans by December 2023.  Alongside that measure, the housing delivery test threshold will be increased to 75% in November 2020 which will further incentivise local authorities to deliver on their Local Plans.  The Government is also looking at reforming the New Homes Bonus whereby authorities who deliver the most homes are rewarded.

Whilst at this stage, most of the detail relating to these initiatives is awaited, it is encouraging to see an ambitious programme being set out. The Planning White Paper will be instrumental in understanding how these initiatives are to likely to be delivered and we will report on it when it is published.

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