House of Commons Library

Planning Reform Proposals

Published Wednesday, March 30, 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. Provisions in the Housing and Planning Bill make changes to the planning system with the aim of getting more houses built. 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.

Following commitments made in the Conservative Party 2015 Manifesto document, the Queen’s speech on 27 May 2015 announced two new bills which would make changes to planning law: a Housing and Planning Bill and an Energy Bill, both of which have now been introduced to Parliament. The Energy Bill 2015-16 would remove the need to obtain consent from the Secretary of State for onshore wind farms above 50 megawatts in size.

The Housing and Planning Bill 2015-16 contains a number of different planning measures which include:

  • putting a general duty on all planning authorities to promote the supply of Starter Homes, and providing a specific duty, which will be set out in later regulations, to require a certain number or proportion of Starter Homes on site;
  • intervention by the Secretary of State over the production of local plans where local authorities are judged to be too slow; and
  • creating a zonal system for brownfield land creating automatic planning permission in principle for housing.

For more detailed information about the proposals in the Bill see the Government’s February 2016 Implementation of planning changes: technical consultation.

The Government’s July 2015 Productivity Plan, Fixing the Foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation, and the November 2015 Autumn Statement 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.

The Government has confirmed that it will put on a permanent basis the temporary permitted development right which allows offices to change to residential use. The Budget 2016 announced new legislation aimed at speeding up and simplifying the process of creating new garden cities, towns and villages. It also announced further reform of the compulsory purchase order system, a review of when planning conditions can be used and further proposals to speed up local plan making.

Commons Briefing papers SN06418

Author: Louise Smith

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

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