12th October 2023
With the summer recess over, party conferences in full swing and the countdown clock to an expected election next year ticking away, the world of planning has returned to the headlines. Here’s a brief run-down on what you need to know:
Long awaited substantive changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) following a wide-ranging consultation launched last December have yet to materialise – but could potentially land soon.
Local housing targets are expected to be weakened under new reforms and changes are expected to be made to the five-year land supply, the metric by which Local Planning Authorities are required to demonstrate a continued supply of housing stock, with the suggestion it could possibly be removed altogether.
Despite publicised claims that an updated NPPF would be published in the Autumn, the only changes since 2021 came in the form of streamlining planning rules around onshore wind projects, published in September.
An ever-evolving beast, the signature piece of legislation from the government bearing the slogan associated with the last General Election continues to bounce back and forth between the Commons and Lords.
With sweeping reforms being proposed for the planning system, if passed the Bill is set to heavily influence policies on areas such as housing delivery, Local Plan development, infrastructure and environmental outcomes.
The Bill returned to the latter at the report stage September with a collection of amendments from both the Government and the opposition. Claims from the government that the new laws will be passed by the end of the month, having received Royal Ascent, seem ever more unlikely.
Over the summer, the government has made a range of announcements in relation to changes and extensions to Permitted Development (PD) rights.
Announcements from the Department for Levelling-up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) in July confirmed a consultation would take place on how PD rights could better support existing homeowners and rural landowners to build “upwards and outwards” – including proposed changes to the MA, Q and R classes.
Further announcements have also seen the extending of PD rights that would allow increased usage of land for temporary camping and filming.
A further consultation on the government’s plan to introduce new reforms and powers for the collection of infrastructure levy payments is expected, despite the response to the initial round of engagement in the spring still being outstanding.
The proposed changes have been considered quite controversial and are expected to face opposition in the House of Lords. These include the replacement of developer contributions (currently through the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 payments) with a new system that would be based on the ultimate development value of the scheme.
Fred Quartermain, Partner in the Thrings Planning and Environment team, said: “The planning world is expecting further upheaval and change over the coming months and it is important for developers, landowners and local authorities to keep on top of how their plans, projects and policies could be impacted by what is on the horizon. We would always recommend seeking out robust professional and legal advice to ensure you are staying ahead of the curve.”
Thrings’ Planning and Environment lawyers have extensive experience in navigating complex local and national planning policy legislation and has successfully supported commercial and residential applications through the approval and appeal processes. To find out more and for advice on your development proposals, including how to address enforcement notices, please do get in touch.