UK Governments ‘Planning Reforms’ and ‘build, build, build’ announcement

The Business and Planning Act 2020 received Royal Assent last week. Here is a summary of the measures covered by the act:

  • The new rules will mean full planning applications will not be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings as homes and commercial and retail properties. This will be enabled via a new permitted development right.
  • Homeowners will also be able to add up to 2 additional storeys to their home through a fast track approval process. However, there is a requirement to carefully consider the impact on neighbours and the appearance of the extension.
  • New rules allowing blocks of flats to be extended upwards by two storeys to create new homes without the need for planning permission come into force on 1 August. The new permitted development right is restricted to buildings of three storeys or more and the extended building must not be taller than 30 metres.
  • Also any live planning permission or listed building consent lapsing in England between 23 March and the end of this year will automatically be extended until 1 April 2021. In normal circumstances, permissions granted in England expire after three years unless work has begun on site, with reserved matters permissions having a shorter two-year lifespan. The government has said the extension will come into force within 28 days of the Act receiving Royal Assent, which took place on 22 July.
  • The Act updates mechanisms that inspectors can utilise when deciding planning appeals. The measure will allow planning inspectors to simultaneously use written representations, hearings and inquiries when deciding an appeal.
  • Among other steps, the act also includes temporary measures to fast-track applications from developers to request changes to planning conditions to allow building site working hours to be extended.

Other planning news:

Town Centres
There are proposals to create a new “commercial, business and service” use class to help boost town centres as part of the government’s series of proposed changes to the planning system. The Housing Secretary said the new category would “allow commercial, retail and leisure uses greater freedom to adapt to changing circumstances”. Buildings used for retail “would be able to be permanently used as a café or office without requiring a planning application and local authority approval”, he added. Pubs, libraries, village shops and other buildings essential to communities will not be covered by these flexibilities.

Reform of England’s planning system
The government is to launch a planning policy paper for comprehensive reform of England’s planning system. The government say the aim is to achieve high-quality, well-designed homes, and beautiful and greener communities for people to live in. Cutting out bureaucracy to get Britain building, while protecting high standards.

Comment:

The TCPA (Town and Country Planning Association) responds to Prime Minister’s ‘Build, build, build’ announcements include the opening statement from their Chief Executive, Fiona Howie:  “While the Prime Minister’s references to building beautiful, low carbon homes, his re-commitment to ‘levelling up’ and his desire to ‘fix the problems that were illuminated during COVID’ are positive, it is totally unclear how the associated announcements around extending permitted development rights will achieve these priorities”.

RTPI chief executive Victoria Hills has written an open letter in response to government statements made this week in relation to the profession:  Dismantling planning system will lead to failure of ‘build, build, build’ agenda; Regenerate the countryside to regenerate the economy

Architects Declare, the UKGBC and the RIBA have all responded with alarm to the Prime Minister’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ speech about the UK’s economic recovery today

Boris ‘the Builder’ Johnson has found a new scapegoat: the humble newt. See: Comment by the Guardian   Further reaction to the attack on newts in the RTPI Planning Resources Magazine by the Editor Richard Garlick “….policymakers seem increasingly cavalier about their evidence base. At the end of last month, the Prime Minister cited “the newt-counting delays in our system” as the reason why the UK was slower than its European counterparts in building homes. Yet the 2018 government-commissioned study into the rate at which planning permissions for homes are built out, led by Sir Oliver Letwin, did not mention newts.  Indeed, it didn’t mention any environmental protection measures as obstacles to prompt building.

Inside Housing (the leading weekly magazine for housing professionals) raises concerns that affordable housing has been left out of the PM’s announcement. The prime minister promised a “new deal” at his set piece speech on building Britain out of the crisis. But as Jules Birch points out, there was precious little cheer for the affordable housing sector

 

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