House of Commons Library

Planning Reform Proposals

Published Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Reforms aimed at making the planning process quicker and simpler to use, to support house building, are high on the Government's agenda. A Housing White Paper is expected to contain a number of reforms in January 2017. This paper sets out the main Government planning reform proposals and those changes in the process of being made in respect of England.

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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.

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 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.

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:

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. A response to this consultation has not yet been published.

Following announcements made at the Conservative Party Conference 2016 the Government is expected to publish a Housing White Paper which will also contain a number of planning policies and draw together a number of outstanding Government responses on planning consultations. In particular, it is expected that the White Paper will contain provision on the resourcing of local authority planning departments in terms of skills and finances.

Drawing together the Government’s planning reform proposals from a number of documents, some of the proposals include:

  • Examining the rules allowing basement development;
  • Making changes to the setting of planning application fees;
  • Introducing a presumption in favour of housing on suitable brownfield land;
  • Making changes to the operation of the Community Infrastructure Levy;
  • New permitted development rights for certain upwards extensions in London;
  • Incentivising the use of the local authority “duty to cooperate ”; and
  • To allow for higher density housing around commuter hubs.

Commons Briefing papers SN06418

Author: Louise Smith

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

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