Few will have missed the publication of the Government’s white paper ” Planning for the Future”. The consultation remains open until 29th October and anyone can have their say. It suggests sweeping reforms of the planning system that would, among other things, remove the right individuals have now to comment on specific planning applications. Consultation would be at the level of commenting on reformed Local Plans that will designate areas for “growth”, “renewal”, and “protection”. It would be much easier for a developer to secure planning permission for a development in a growth or renewal area than at present. Design codes would be set in the Local Plan. These are to be streamlined and will not have policy statements – just area designations and design codes.
The White Paper is significantly short on detail and filled with jargon and lots of waffle. It can be viewed (and downloaded) from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government web page (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future).
The Steering Group are preparing comments on it and we welcome comments from members of the Forum. The deadline for comments is 29th October: we would need to receive your comments by 26th October when the Steering Group will meet to approve our response.
Neighbourhood Plans are mentioned in the document but it is rather vague how they fit in and whether it would reduce their scope. It is possible that we would not be able to put forward sites for future development (“site designations”) and may have no influence on designating areas for growth, redevelopment and protection. It is all opaque! We have been urged not to pause plan preparation as implementing such changes is likely to be a very slow process despite the “this parliament” ambitions of the white paper.
Many other parties are commenting. The Woodland Trust see it as reducing protection for Ancient Woodlands and for trees in general (see https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/protecting-trees-and-woods/campaign-with-us/planning-protection-cuts/). Private Eye have pointed out that it makes no mention of designing accessible homes for disabled people. RIBA have concerns (https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/knowledge-landing-page/planning-for-the-future-sustainability-policy-positions). The more comments the better!