House of Commons Library

Planning Reform Proposals

Published Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A number of planning reforms were announced by the Government in the February 2017 Housing White Paper. This paper sets out what is proposed alongside other reforms contained in legislation and previous consultations.

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This paper sets out the Government’s key planning reform proposals and those changes in the process of being made in respect of England. 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.

Legislative changes by the Conservative Government

Following the election of the Conservative Government in May 2015 there have been a number of planning related consultations and announcements. Changes to the planning system by this Government have already been made in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and the Energy Act 2016. While many of the provisions in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 are now in force, they contain a number of regulation making powers which have not yet been implemented. Further information about the policies that these regulations may contain can be found in the Government’s February 2016 Implementation of planning changes: technical consultation.

Consultation on further change to planning policy

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 (NPPF), to support the development of housing on certain types of land.

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill

Further reform to the planning system is provided in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill 2016-17 which is progressing through Parliament. The Bill will make some changes to the neighbourhood planning system, the use of pre-commencement planning conditions and the compulsory purchase process. The aim is to speed up the delivery of new homes. For further information see Library briefing papers:

The Housing white paper

A Housing white paper, Fixing our broken housing market was published in February 2017. The Government is consulting on the proposals and responses can be submitted until 2 May 2017. Many of the planning related proposals in the white paper would be done by making changes to the NPPF. Many of them respond to the policies put forward from the previous December 2015 and February 2016 consultations. Some of the headline proposals from the white paper include:

  • giving local authorities the opportunity to have their housing land supply agreed on an annual basis and fixed for a one year period;
  • further consultation on introducing a standardised approach for local authorities in assessing housing requirements;
  • changing the NPPF to introduce a housing delivery test which will highlight whether the number of homes being built is on target;
  • increasing nationally set planning fees; and
  • further consultation on introducing a fee for making a planning appeal.

Further proposals

Alongside the white paper, the Government also published a number of responses to outstanding consultations and select committee reports. A new consultation on planning and affordable housing for build to rent was published and the Government also published the report submitted by the Community Infrastructure Review Group. A response to this report has been promised at the time of the Autumn Budget 2017.

Commons Briefing papers SN06418

Author: Louise Smith

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

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