By Emma Dring
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government made a statement in the House of Commons this morning (12 March 2020) on Planning for the Future. It was accompanied by a policy paper giving further detail on the Government's latest proposals.
1. A "bold and ambitious" White Paper will be published in the spring. It will include:
- A new planning fees structure, linked to a performance framework, to ensure local authorities "are properly resourced"; with fees being refunded in the event of success at appeal.
- Measures to expand the use of zoning tools such as Local Development Orders, "to simplify the process of granting planning permission for residential and commercial development".
- Overhaul of the CPO system to "help facilitate land assembly and infrastructure delivery" and give local authorities "confidence" to use their CPO powers.
2. There are carrot-and-stick measures to ensure land for housing is brought forward. A deadline of December 2023 is introduced for local authorities to have an up to date plan, with intervention powers threatened thereafter. The housing delivery test threshold will be raised to 75% in November 2020, and the New Homes Bonus is to be reformed to "reward" local authorities who are performing well.
3. There is a renewed focus on design. The NPPF will be revised to strengthen policy on "good design and placemaking". There are proposals to increase community input, including by requiring consultation on new local design guides and codes. Further action will also be taken on urban tree planting and ensuring "tree lined streets" are the norm.
4. Policy on flood risk may be tightened up. The Government will "assess whether current protections in the NPPF are enough", in light of the widespread serious flooding caused by winter storms this year.
5. The Government's "infrastructure first" approach to building new homes is reiterated. The policy paper confirms yesterday's budget announcement that £1.1 billion will be provided to fund specific key infrastructure schemes. Alongside that specific support, the Government is announcing a new £10 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund; further details are to be announced at the next Spending Review.