Government Moves to Streamline Planning Process

Apex Planning Process

Releasing surplus land for housing and creating New Investment Zones are included in the latest plans to shake up the planning sector...

Planning Process Reforms

There are more changes in the pipeline for the planning industry following Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s ‘mini budget’ at the end of September.

The government has announced planning reforms whose purpose is to both streamline the planning process and ease the way for land to be released for housing. The Chancellor revealed the introduction of legislation that cuts down on restrictions and laws that ‘constrain our growth’ within the planning system. His target is the planning system for major infrastructure, which he described as “too slow and fragmented”.

Kwasi Kwarteng told the House of Commons that a new bill would help to “unpick the complex patchwork of planning restrictions and EU-derived laws that constrain our growth”. He aims to streamline the process of assessments, appraisals and consultations regulation and speed up decision making.

New Investment Zones

Infrastructure projects that will be targeted include telecoms, energy and transport. In good news for developers, there will also be more surplus government land made available for new homes developments. He also confirmed the New Investment Zones, mooted by Liz Truss during her leadership campaign, where planning rules will be ‘liberalised’ in a bid to help land be released and developments accelerated.

The government is currently in talks with 38 authority areas (including Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council) to get the New Investment Zones established. These areas will see employment taxes for businesses reduced and stamp duty cut altogether. And according to a report in The Guardian, it might also include the removal of some environmental rules and the requirement for affordable housing.

There are also plans to work on similar zones in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, following the announcement, Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, warned: “It is vital that any planning reforms don’t create a free-for-all approach to new development at the expense of our legally-binding climate commitments and nature recovery goals.’’

Nicholas Harris, chief executive of Stonewater, said he would like to see the initiative extended across the country ‘’at the earliest opportunity so as to avoid a postcode lottery on personal taxation initiatives, and so we can build more homes for people that need them.”

The government published the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill in February, which includes some radical changes for the planning sector, but following these latest announcements there has been speculation in the press that the bill will now be shelved.

We await further developments with interest.

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