Todays Build Build Build speech by the Prime Minster looks to be setting out a two step approach to the much heralded comprehensive planning reform as well as a series of funding programmes.
The immediate detail follows a familiar refrain with the scope for re-use of buildings for alternative purposes and the re-development of former buildings being taken out of the planning application decision making route and instead becoming either truly permitted development or possibly development requiring the planners prior approval.
As we know only too well the success of these proposals very much lies on the detail and clarity of wording. With the current prior approval regime the apparently more relaxed appraisal often proves to be only the first step in securing the ultimately beneficial development outcome. Meanwhile local authorities adopt very different approaches when they consider such proposals.
Chapman Lily recently considered how MHCLG will best deal with incentivising town centre re-uses in an uncertain and changing environment, it will be interesting to see whether the new opportunities are a permitted development or come with strings (and therefore an assessment) attached. The scope to re-use existing buildings builds on a brown field first approach and could focus attention on regenerating our towns and cities but will it deliver the high quality houses and places the government has recently been committing itself to or will we instead be considering the quality of the flats and places deriving from a fast track, permissive development approach?
There is a lot of work to do before these new rights are introduced in September.
The speech also trailed a range of spending initiatives, however the headline numbers are on occasion spread across a number of years. They also include a pilot project to deliver 1,500 First Homes, a scheme to deliver discounted houses to first time buyers and hopefully more successful than the earlier Starter Home and Entry Level homes both of which have already trailed a similar concept.
The big announcement however is the launch of planning Policy Paper in July setting out the governments plan for comprehensive reform of England’s seven-decade old planning system, to “introduce a new approach that works better for our modern economy and society.”
It will be interesting to see how the new ideas seek to balance the objectives of “economy” and “society” and whether they share the same objectives.
John Hammond Associate Director at Chapman Lily commented “It is abundantly clear that the planning system as currently structured and resourced will struggle to meet the challenges of COVID 19 and town centre renewal in a timely way, however whether this is because it is a broken system or rather a system lacking in resource, confidence and skills remains unclear.”
Chapman Lily will be monitoring these announcements and going through the new freedoms and flexibilities in order that we are well positioned to assist clients with their development queries.