The planning bill is set to overhaul the rules that determine housebuilding and land use in England. It aims to speed up the planning process and support councils to meet the government’s housebuilding target of 300,000 new homes each year. New legislation on planning is considered long overdue as the current system is based on the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 and no longer fit for purpose.
Under the current system, local planning officials assess applications on a case-by-case basis. The proposed changes would replace this with a zone-based approach. The country would be divided up by local councils into three categories: growth areas 'suitable for substantial development', renewal areas 'suitable for some development' and protected areas, such as green belt and areas of natural beauty, where development would be restricted.
In the growth areas, automatic planning permission would be granted for applications that conform to pre-agreed planning rules for new homes, hospitals, schools, offices and shops. It is suggested that making these changes could halve the time it takes to secure planning permission on larger sites.
Local plans would contain clear rules with design codes and site- and area-specific requirements to encourage a much greater focus on design quality. Local residents would be able to have a say on the initial plans for the zones, but not when it came down to individual planning applications.
The Planning for the future whitepaper, published in August 2020, laid out the reforms:
Read the Planning for the future whitepaper.