Responses To Proposed Planning Reform

Following the white paper reforms to planning, we round up some of the responses by those in the industry.

Yesterday the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (6 August) announced an overhaul to the planning system that would improve a currently “sluggish” systems and allow more development to take place quickly on brownfield sites, leaving green and protected areas. The plans also included more community-based consultation as well as giving a “major boost” to SME builders.

Following the announcement there have been announcements from those in the building industry.

Andy Sommerville, Director of Search Acumen, comments:

“Few areas of the industry are calling out for transformation more than the UK’s planning system which places a greater emphasis on documents rather than data and local officials’ knowledge of the areas they directly manage.

“Covid 19 has acted as catalyst for the digitisation of several areas of the property sector and the planning sector is no exception. The pandemic has highlighted the need for digital access from anywhere.

“Now is the time to put data at the heart of the planning processes. By enabling widespread access to interactive maps and instant access to land and property data, we can ensure that the risks are properly assessed even before a brick has been laid.

“This will in turn lead to cost efficiencies for the sector while also meaning we can more swiftly and efficiently meet the housing needs of the nation both now and in the future.”

Melanie Leech, Chief Executive, British Property Federation, comments:

“The UK planning system has needed reform for some time, and the government’s intention to simplify the process has the potential to accelerate the delivery of new homes, and town and city regeneration – much-needed investment into communities across the UK, which will underpin our nation’s post-Covid recovery.

“The proposed reforms would however frontload the system, with more pressure on local authorities to provide leadership, vision and context for investors, developers and their communities. While this is right and vital, local authorities are under pressure like never before with the impact of Covid-19 and they will need significant support and resource to achieve these ambitions set out today – to ensure pace of delivery is equally complemented by quality, where new development will contribute to our country’s economic, social and environmental objectives.

“One of the contradictions in government policy since 2010 is that spending on the English planning system has been cut by 55% – the greatest fall across all council activities – meanwhile housing targets over the same period have increased by 50% to 300,000. These reforms must close this gap.”

The planned reforms have certainly been welcomed by many, not just those looking to improve the planning system or take advantage of the ability to develop land with less red tape. The First Home scheme has also been welcomed by first time buyers, local people and key workers. The scheme will allow a 30% discount on property that will be attached in perpetuity.

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