Planning reform update March 2022

The government is considering dropped plans to introduce a standalone planning bill. Commentators believe it is now looking at a more incremental approach to changing the planning system, with a new infrastructure levy among the few surviving key proposals from the 2020 white paper.

Michael Gove attended a private meeting week commencing 28th February 2022 where he spoke to 45 MPs, about his decision to “not to proceed with a major separate piece of planning legislation to put reforms into law”.

If this is correct and planning reforms are to be made in the Levelling Up and Regeneration bill, proposed in the levelling-up white paper published earlier this year (2 February 2022); then this looks like another missed and wasted opportunity to effectively bring planning forward, so that it can be modernised and made more visionary for all our futures.

So much for the statement in the White Paper; Planning for the future in August 2020 when the Prime Minister said in the foreword:

Thanks to our planning system, we have nowhere near enough homes in the right places. People cannot afford to move to where their talents can be matched with opportunity. Businesses cannot afford to grow and create jobs. The whole thing is beginning to crumble and the time has come to do what too many have for too long lacked the courage to do – tear it down and start again.

That is what this paper proposes.

Radical reform unlike anything we have seen since the Second World War.

Not more fiddling around the edges, not simply painting over the damp patches, but levelling the foundations and building, from the ground up, a whole new planning system for England.

One that is simpler, clearer and quicker to navigate, delivering results in weeks and months rather than years and decades”

Are these empty words???

In a debate in the House of Commons on 1st March 2022 the Housing Minister, Stuart Andrew said that the Government are reviewing the planning system including the role of the five-year housing land supply and considering its alignment with and support of the levelling up agenda.

The White Paper proposed scrapping the five -year housing land supply because it proposed binding housing requirements for each local authority. It now seems likely that binding housing targets will not be taken forward.

Ian Fletcher, director of real estate policy at the British Property Federation is reported to have said: “It’s clear zoning is dead,” for local plans.

The government has yet to publish its response to the consultation on the White Paper and it is clear that politicians have been concerned about the reaction to the White Paper proposals within communities who are opposed to development.  The reforms were considered to be a contributing factor as to why the Conservative Party lost the Chesham and Amersham by-election in June 2021.

It now appears there will be an incremental approach to reforming planning and this government will continue as previous governments in the words of Boris Johnson he will continue “fiddling around the edges”.