The Government’s shake up of the planning system has now been published in a white paper, “Planning for the Future.” It aims to deliver a planning system which “is simpler, clearer and quicker to navigate, delivering results in weeks and months rather than years and decades, … and that actively encourages sustainable, beautiful, safe and useful development rather than obstructing it”. A key aim is to ensure that more land is available for development.
The reforms are significant and wide ranging and you are encouraged to comment on the white paper.
There is obviously a case to be made for reform, and many people would agree that the current planning system is cumbersome and often unpredictable. This is an opportunity to build an improved planning system which leads to better places and stronger communities and the white paper includes improvements in areas such as design standards. It aims to cut red tape but not standards, and to give more emphasis to quality, design and local vernacular. But it is crucial that the rush to “build, build, build” doesn’t override local democracy and accountability and the role of local people in ensuring that we have sustainable, community-led development.
All land will be classified into three zones: Growth, Renewal and Protected, with a presumption that building will be approved automatically in all but the Protected zones. The role of local plans will be changed significantly. Instead of setting development management policies they will be limited in scope to assigning all land to one of the three zones and to the development of design codes and guides. Any development proposal which conforms to the design codes would be approved automatically in the Growth or Renewal zones.
While the zoning and design codes will be subject to a local democratic process, this will only be at the early stages. There is no framework for public consultation and community control after the early stages and once a local plan is adopted it will be too late to object to most development proposals. The reforms to local plans could also have significant implications for neighbourhood plans, potentially reducing their scope and ability to decide where development takes place. Their role will be limited to focusing on a smaller range of planning issues, potentially reducing rather than increasing local decision making.
Neighbourhood plans have been a major success and we need to ensure that they continue to have a key role in enabling local people to have a real opportunity to shape our communities. In particular we need to make sure that the Market Bosworth Neighbourhood Plan continues to define the type and location of new housing development locally.
The deadline for responses to the planning white paper is 29th October 2020.
The proposals and information on how to respond can be found on the Government website.
You may also like to send your views to the Parish Council or send a copy to the Parish Council by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.