Planning Reform Proposals

Published 27 May 2015

Reforms aimed at making the planning system quicker and simpler to use were high on the agenda of the former Government. A number of these proposals are still outstanding. The Conservative Party's manifesto and new legislation announced in the May 2015 Queen's Speech pledge further reforms. This note sets out the outstanding reforms and new reforms expected to be made by the new Government.

Jump to full report >>

The former Government made some major reforms to the planning system, with the introduction of the Localism Act 2011 and the National Planning Policy Framework. Changes were also made in the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, and in the Infrastructure Act 2015, aimed at speeding up the planning system.

Outside of these Acts the former Government made a number of other announcements on planning reform, which have not yet been implemented. It is not yet known whether the new Government will continue to take these further. Brandon Lewis MP has been reappointed to his role as planning Minister in this new Parliament. Rt Hon Greg Clark has replaced Rt Hon Eric Pickles as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. These outstanding proposals stem from Budget 2015, the Technical Consultation on Planning July 2014, Consultation: planning and travellers, September 2014, National Infrastructure Plan 2014 and Autumn Statement 2014, December 2014, which include:

  • a proposed new permitted development right for the drilling of boreholes for groundwater monitoring for petroleum exploration (including for shale gas exploration);
  • amending the definition of “travellers” for planning purposes;
  • proposals to get more brownfield land back into use;
  • steps to speed up section 106 negotiations; and
  • proposed reform of the compulsory purchase regime.

The Conservative Party 2015 Manifesto document contained several planning commitments, including proposals to “change the law so that local people have the final say on windfarm applications” and to “let local people have more say on local planning and let them vote on local issues.”

In the Queen’s speech on 27 May 2015 two new bills were announced which would make changes to planning law: a Housing Bill which would introduce a statutory register for brownfield land and make changes to neighbourhood planning law; and an Energy Bill, which would remove certain onshore wind farms from the nationally significant development consent process. Instead of the final decision on development consent being taken by the Secretary of State, it would return these onshore wind projects to the planning application process where the decision is taken by the local planning authority in the first instance.

This note sets out more information about the key planning reform announcements and an overview the proposals. Most of the proposals would apply to England only.

For information about proposals to stimulate housing supply see Library standard note, Stimulating housing supply.

Commons Briefing papers SN06418

Author: Louise Smith

Topics: Planning, Housing, Regional planning and development, Housing supply

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.