Borough Insight

Changes to the planning system

The Government has published a white paper and launched a consultation on a fundamental reform of the national planning system. A white paper is a policy document produced by the Government that sets out its proposals for future legislation.

The Government’s stated aim is to streamline and modernise the planning process. They propose to bring a new focus to design and sustainability, improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is Image: Planningneeded.

Under the plans, much more planning policy will be set nationally. In addition, local authorities are required to designate land in their area as one of three categories; for growth, for renewal or for protection. Local authorities’ local plans will be required to identify areas as being one of the three designations.

Councillor David Reeve, Chair of the Licensing and Planning Policy Committee said “I welcome any opportunities to further improve and simplify the planning system and I am therefore looking very closely as these latest Government proposals as we prepare the Council’s formal response.  However I would be concerned if the proposals sought to further transfer local planning powers and the determination of local planning policy away from local authorities to central Government.  It would also be a concern if the proposals gave too much freedom to developers and removed the ability for local people to be part of the process for determining what constitutes appropriate development in their areas. 

“Planning applications that affect the local area always understandably generate a high level of residents’ interest. That is why Planning decisions have relied on public engagement in shaping any proposed development to be the best possible outcome for the local area.

“The launch of the borough’s new local plan had reached a key stage, when we had to suspend the planned consultation because of the COVID-19 crisis.  However, we have been keen to move things forward following the lock-down, and a new timetable for the Local Plan has recently been agreed by the Council’s Licencing and Planning Policy Committee.  However, given the Government’s announcement and the scale of change that their proposals envisage, we have no choice but to now seek clarification from the Government about what they expect councils like us, in the process of the local plan formation, to do in relation to their local plan preparations".

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