Changes to the current planning system

Further to the "Planning for the Future" White Paper and associated consultation, the Government has quietly launched a separate consultation on a series of more immediate changes to the planning system.

Changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need

These will be used as a basis for Local Plans prepared prior to the reforms outlined in “Planning for the Future” and seek to align with the Government’s commitment to deliver 300,000 new homes a year, whilst also achieving a more appropriate distribution of homes, particularly where they are currently least affordable. This will be addressed through taking into account existing housing stock levels in each Local Planning Authority area, as well as an “affordability adjustment” to the methodology.

Securing First Homes through developer contributions

It is proposed that a minimum of 25 per cent of all affordable housing units secured through developer contributions should be First Homes. This will initially be secured through Section 106 Agreements but latterly through the Infrastructure Levy proposed in “Planning for the Future”.

Temporarily lifting the small sites threshold

This proposal seeks to support the post-Covid economic recovery, and to assist SME housebuilders in particular, by increasing the viability of small sites. This will be achieved by raising the affordable housing threshold to either 40 or 50 units for an initial period of 18 months, during which the impact will be monitored.

Extending Permission in Principle to major development

“Permission in Principle” was introduced in 2017 for some brownfield and small sites in order to separate decision making on ‘in principle’ issues from matters of technical detail. Pending the reforms proposed by “Planning for the Future” – which seek to automatically grant permission in principle for land allocated in Local Plans – the Government wishes to expand the current mechanism to include major developments not subject to Environment Impact Assessment or habitats assessments.

The consultation will last for eight weeks and closes on 1st October. For further information, please contact Jonathan Buckwell.

For more information call 01622776226 or email:

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