Comments by the secretary of state at a select committee appearance last week indicate an impending overhaul of the way local housing need is currently assessed, say practitioners, which is likely to allow councils more control over their homes requirements and a ditching of proposed ‘top-down’ targets.
A Labour MP has submitted a private members’ bill seeking to set “binding planning requirements” to ensure consistency across council areas in the use of pre-commencement conditions that require developers to introduce flood resilience measures in their new schemes.
Earlier this month, the business and energy department published five updated draft national policy statements for major energy infrastructure projects. Here Planning highlights five key changes set out in the documents.
Neil O’Brien MP, a former director of the Policy Exchange think tank who describes “reforming” the planning system as one of his priorities, has been appointed to a new junior ministerial post at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has asked planning inspectors to take a ‘pragmatic’ approach to interpreting National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) revisions requiring councils to set a 30-year vision for new settlements, after a council cited the changes as a reason for delaying submission of its draft local plan.
The government has stressed that councils will still be able to use Article 4 directions to block the new commercial-residential permitted development rights “if they are targeted, well-evidenced and apply to the smallest area possible”, as part of a new town centres policy document which also includes measures to boost the use of compulsory purchase powers and moves to use the planning system to tackle littering.
The government response to consultation feedback on the planning white paper has been pushed back from its original spring deadline to the autumn, while the housing secretary has promised that ensuing changes will be council-led. Commentators say that a significant government retreat is on the cards.
The mayor of London has published ‘strategic evidence’ to support councils in introducing so-called Article 4 directions to protect areas – including suburban office locations as well as the capital’s central area and Canary Wharf – from potential adverse impacts of the government’s controversial new commercial-to-residential permitted development (PD) right.
Following national newspaper claims that ministers are going cold on plans to introduce a binding housing targets for councils to meet, planning experts say the strength of likely political opposition to the proposal and practical challenges mean it is not likely to come forward in its original form.
Revised planning policies requiring a new form of affordable housing come into force at the end of this month. Local authority groups are worried that the new First Homes transitional arrangements could cause plan-making and decision-making delays, while some developer bodies suggest that applicants will seek to get their proposals determined before the requirement kicks in.