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Fast track for ‘beautiful buildings’ under government’s planning reform proposals

White paper includes automatic planning permission in designated ‘growth’ areas.
06 August 2020 , Sarah Campbell

The government has outlined its proposed ‘landmark changes’ to the English planning system in a white paper.

Under the proposals, land would be placed into three categories, ‘growth’, ‘renewal’ and ‘protected’, with planning rules for each one. In ‘growth’ areas, the development of homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will be allowed automatically. Plans will need to be developed and agreed within 30 months – down from the current seven years.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “These once in a generation reforms will lay the foundations for a brighter future, providing more homes for young people and creating better quality neighbourhoods and homes across the country. We will cut red tape, but not standards, placing a higher regard on quality, design and the environment than ever before. Planning decisions will be simple and transparent, with local democracy at the heart of the process.”

However, there is concern that the new planning rules would undermine local authorities’ control over the kinds of homes being built in their area – including being able to ensure new developments include affordable homes. For example, the proposals include the creation of a fast-track system for ‘beautiful buildings’.

The Local Government Association pointed out that more than a million homes have received planning permission over the last 10 years – but have yet to be built. “The system needs to ensure planning permissions are built. Any loss of local control over developments would be a concern. It would deprive communities of the ability to define the area they live in and know best and risk giving developers the freedom to ride roughshod over local areas,” said James Jamieson, the LGA’s chairman.

The Planning for the future consultation closes on 29 October 2020.

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