Concerns rise as government teases out planning reforms | Strategic Network news

Concerns rise as government teases out planning reforms

Key bodies from across the sector have started to share their anxiety about new planning reforms to be released by government.

Some of the reforms were laid out in a Sunday Telegraph article by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, following on from Boris Johnson's Build, Build, Build speech.

It is thought that there are now going to be three types of application: Growth, Renewal and Protected.

'Growth' will be the easiest for developers to build using, with planning permission almost assumed in these schemes, meaning all that would need to be confirmed is aspects such as complying with design code.

In the 'Renewal' category, there is also this "permission in pricipal approach" but development will be limited in the 'Protected ' category, essentially protecting the Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It is thought that it will means residents get less of a say when a scheme is going through, especially in the 'Growth' applications. 

The government will also introduce measures to end sending letters to all impacted residents.

Another aspect is having tree-lined streets for all new developments. 

But concerns have already started to rise, with the government's own research finding that homes built outside of the planning system are usually worse for wellbeing and health.

And the CPRE accuse the government of "gross oversimplification".

Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at CPRE, the countryside charity, said: "The government’s intended reforms sound like a gross oversimplification of the planning system.

"First and foremost, our planning process must respond to the needs of communities, both in terms of providing much-needed affordable homes and other vital infrastructure, and green spaces for our health and wellbeing.

"The planning process as it stands may not be perfect but instead of deregulating planning, the government must invest in planning. Quality development needs a quality planning system with community participation at its heart.

"The Secretary of State has claimed that these planning reforms will still be very much ‘people-focused’ but that flies in the face of what has been outlined today by the government.

"We eagerly await more details and will be joining forces with a range of other housing, planning and environmental campaigning bodies to push back hard on the deregulation agenda, which has never been the answer to the question of how best to boost economic growth."

There was also criticism from some in the building community.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The Prime Minister has said we need to ‘build, build, build’ our way to recovery and a flexible and responsive planning system is essential to deliver this aim.

"Local small builders have an important role to play in delivering the high quality homes the country needs but 42% of small builders have difficulty engaging with the planning system.

"New measures that make the planning system quicker and more affordable are welcome but it is vital that high standards in design and build are not compromised as a result, and that any overhaul doesn't in fact add further delays.”

Kate Henderson, Chief Executive at the National Housing Federation, added: "Our planning system must be a way of creating affordable, inclusive, sustainable and beautiful communities.

"We support reforms that would encourage this, but would be concerned about further deregulation that could in fact lead to the exact opposite. We're looking forward to seeing more detail on the government's proposals, and want to work with ministers and officials to shape them.

"Of course, we can't forget that it isn't just about how many homes we build, but also how affordable they are. While planning reform could help, only a once-in-a-generation public investment will allow us to build the amount of social housing the country needs.

"As well as providing a secure, affordable home for the people who need one most, this would also help the government to meet its building targets and support the economy to bounce back from the coronavirus crisis."