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How will Gove’s planning reforms affect you and your community?

Updated: Apr 11

Michael Gove, current Housing Secretary, has stated that:

“We are going to do everything we can in order to ensure that more of the right homes are built in the right way, in the right places.”

- Michael Gove to the BBC

But it is becoming increasingly clear that the ‘overhaul’ of the planning system originally promised has succumbed to the pressure of back-bench Conservative MPs, leaving only a significantly diluted handful of changes in place.

Numerous voices within the planning and development industries have asserted that the proposed changes will not enable the Government to reach its own target of providing 300,000 new homes each year by 2025.

In fact, it is increasingly clear that the changes will instead provide local authorities with more flexibility to reduce the housing provision in their area and empower residents to block and delay residential development.

The Government has recently published a consultation document on the proposed reforms to Planning Policy, to reflect the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill, which is currently before Parliament.

The proposed reforms will have particular implications on housing delivery, design, and local plans and are intended to significantly influence the development and provision of local services and additional housing requirements within our towns and cities.

In spite of growing criticism from Labour and industry professionals alike, the Government continues to assert that the reforms will ensure that local planning authorities can meet the following grand objectives:

· Building more new homes

· Increasing home ownership

· Empowering communities

· Regenerating towns and cities

· Giving communities a stronger say in their built environment

· Greater provision of community infrastructure by developers

· Enhanced protections for our environmental and heritage assets.

Gove has suggested that this overhaul of the current planning system should provide a more streamlined process, making it easier for land to be made available for building more houses and for planning permission to be granted. In theory, this should facilitate developers in getting planning through the system faster and providing much-needed housing inline with Government targets.

However, it has been widely asserted by the planning and construction industries that there are significant limitations to the so-called overhaul and that these reforms do not go anywhere near far enough to facilitate the kind of residential development required to support our communities and to provide the positive gains needed to meet the Government’s own housing targets.

Associate Director Daniel Foster, here at Salmon Planning, suggests that:

“Whilst there is a broad consensus that promoting better design is a positive change the big concern for many of us in the development industry is that significantly less land will be available for housing development as a result of these proposed policy changes.”

“For example, in some parts of the south-west housing affordability ratios are at 11 times average incomes so there is a real balance to be struck between providing much needed new homes and delivering high-quality development”.

- Daniel Foster, Associate Director at Salmon Planning

The overhaul originally proposed in 2020 by the then housing secretary Robert Jenrick, has encountered significant delays and opposition on its journey through Government, with a group of Conservative MPs pushing in particular for a ban on housing provision targets for local authorities.

The reform proposals as they currently stand clearly lean toward to sating these anti-development sentiments, with some proposals being dropped entirely and what is left lacking clarity, conviction and, in some cases, even conflicting with each other.

Regardless of all this, the changes are certainly coming and set to impact everyone from large housing developers to homeowners and self-builders and we will have to wait and watch to see how the changes are put into practice and the fallout that follows.

Salmon Planning Company will closely monitor the progress of these Government Policy changes to the planning landscape over the course of the year and keep you posted with how these changes might affect you and your planned projects.

We would be happy to discuss specific implications of these changes in relation to any project you have in mind.

Further Reading:

Find the Scope of the Consultation published by the Government here and the homepage for the Government’s Department of Leveling Up, Housing & Communities here.

Read further professional commentary on the proposed changes from the RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute) and the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors).

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