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England’s Planning System to be Transformed

In C3 Alliance's latest edition of "Collaborate", DHA's Patrick Reedman reviews the long-awaited “Planning for the Future” white paper and how this could fundamentally change the way that planning works in the future.

By Patrick Reedman MRTPI, Associate at DHA.

Can you believe it, it’s a recent Government announcement that isn’t a U-Turn! (Yet). 

We were all keen to see the long-awaited “Planning for the Future” white paper this summer which sets out a vision for the ‘most radical reform to England’s planning system in 70 years’. Amongst all the talk of introducing an American style ‘zoning’ system before the paper was released, it seems the paper does actually have some pretty radical ideas for reforming the planning system. 

Here are some core ideas contained in the paper which could fundamentally change the way that planning works in the future:

  • Faster and shorter local plans which categorise land into three main categories ‘Growth Areas, Renewal Areas and Protected Areas’. One of the most radical shake-ups being an ‘automatically granted’ planning permission (subject to conformance with design codes etc) if you manage to successfully promote your land for ‘growth’ in the new style local plan;
  • A new ‘fast track’ system to automatically permit developments with high quality design (though who knows how ‘high quality design’ will be defined and by whom!);
  • Abolition of current variable CIL rates in favour of a nationally set, value-based charge and an aspiration to do away with lengthy S106 negotiations;
  • And perhaps, most significantly, the introduction of top-down, nationally set, housing requirements – cutting out the normal wrangling on housing need at local plan examinations.

Alongside the main consultation, the Government also released a stealth-like paper which floats the idea of increasing normal affordable housing thresholds to 40 or 50 units for a temporary 18-month period. We’re expecting that this could make a big difference to a lot of sites currently in the pipeline as applicants go back to renegotiate away affordable housing requirements. There will be much dispute with local authorities on this, particularly in London, as Boroughs try to demonstrate that they have an exceptional requirement that outweighs ministerial policy. 

All of these things, alongside the swathe of extra permitted development rights for replacement buildings and airspace developments (which have already kicked in), and the creation of a new ‘Use Class E’ categorisation for retail and commercial buildings could mean lots of new development and asset management opportunities in the coming months.  

C3 are working in collaboration with DHA Planning who are acting as the planning consultants on our Fawkham Manor project in Kent. We would like to say a big thanks to Patrick for his contribution to this issue of Collaborate.

To read the full edition of Collaborate, please click here.

For more information call 01622 776226 or email:

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