House of Commons Library

Planning Reform Proposals

Published Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Reforms aimed at making the planning system quicker and simpler to use are high on the Government's agenda, as set out in the 2015 Productivity Plan and Budget 2016. The Queen's Speech 2016 has announced a new Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill providing for further reform in addition to those made by the Housing and Planning Act 2016. This paper sets out the Government’s key planning reform proposals and those changes in the process of being made.

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This paper sets out the Government’s key planning reform proposals and those changes in the process of being made. Most of these proposed changes would apply to England only. For information about changes in the other UK countries see the joint Library briefing paper Comparison of the planning systems in the four UK countries: 2016 update.

The Queen’s Speech on 18 May 2016 announced a Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill 2016-17. The main elements of the Bill are:

  • Neighbourhood planning: provisions to improve the process for reviewing and updating plans and providing a more transparent duty for the Government to support groups wanting to do neighbourhood planning.
  • Planning conditions: provision to ensure that pre-commencement planning conditions are only imposed when they are absolutely necessary.
  • Compulsory purchase: provisions designed to make the process clearer, fairer and faster, including a new statutory framework for agreeing compensation.
  • National Infrastructure Commission: provision to establish the independent National Infrastructure Commission on a statutory basis.
  • Land Registry: provision to enable privatisation of it.

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 received Royal Assent in May 2016. It stems from commitments made in the Conservative Party 2015 Manifesto document and the 2015 Queen’s speech. Many of the planning provisions in the Act have not yet come into force, but when it does it contains provision to:

  • put a general duty on all planning authorities to promote the supply of Starter Homes and to require a certain number or proportion of Starter Homes on site;
  • allow intervention by the Secretary of State over the production of local plans where local authorities are judged to be too slow; and
  • create a system of planning permission in principle for housing.

For more detailed information about the provisions see the Government’s February 2016 Implementation of planning changes: technical consultation and the Library briefing papers, Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16 and Housing and Planning Bill: Lords amendments and Ping Pong.

The Government’s July 2015 Productivity Plan, Fixing the Foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation, and the November 2015 Autumn Statement have also announced some further changes including:

  • “significantly” tightening the “planning guarantee” (the time that planning applications spend in total with decision makers), for minor planning applications; and
  • introducing a delivery test on local authorities, to ensure delivery against the homes set out in local plans within a reasonable timeframe.

The Government’s August 2015 rural productivity plan, Towards a one nation economy: A 10-point plan for boosting productivity in rural areas, has proposed changes designed to make the planning process easier in rural areas including the introduction of new and revised permitted development rights. This was followed up by a February 2016 Rural planning review: call for evidence.

In the December 2015 Consultation on proposed changes to national planning policy the Government proposed a number of changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, to support better the development of housing on certain types of land.

Commons Briefing papers SN06418

Author: Louise Smith

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

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