‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper and the coming Planning Bill

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By Colin Adsley
11th August 2021

Three proposals and what they could mean for Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

Proposal 1

The role of land use plans should be simplified. We propose that Local Plans should identify three types of land – growth areas suitable for substantial development, renewal areas suitable for development, and areas that are protected.

We are especially concerned about this proposal’s intentions in the category of land it is calling ‘renewal areas’, especially after reading, ‘It could include development in rural areas not annotated as growth or protected areas, such as small sites within or on the edge of villages. There would be a statutory presumption in favour of development being granted for the uses specified…’

‘Small sites within or on the edge of villages’ means pieces of land which often contribute greatly to the character of a small town or village and enhance its landscape setting. Upsetting the current planning balance in favour of the developer in anywhere outside the Green Belt would mean that no piece of land around a town or village could be considered safe from development, and communities would be able to do little about it.

Proposal 2

Development management policies established at national scale and an altered role for Local Plans.

Currently, Local Plans can provide detailed policies showing how the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework will apply to each area. Removing this facility would tie our Authority’s hands, fettering their ability to have a say in the framing of the basic planning principles which will be brought to bear on the applications that come before it.

Proposal 3

A standard method for establishing housing requirement figures which ensures enough land is released in the areas where affordability is worst, to stop land supply being a barrier to enough homes being built. The housing requirement would factor in land constraints and opportunities to more effectively use land, including through densification where appropriate, to ensure that the land is identified in the most appropriate areas and housing targets are met.

This proposal (together with the suggestion that the current requirement for a five-year supply of building land should be increased to ten years) would put pressure on our Councils to grant applications which would be refused under current legislation. It ignores the findings and subsequent recommendations of the Letwin Report of 2018 that the chief cause of slowness in the delivery of housing lies in the industry’s practice of maintaining an ‘absorption rate’ that places no more houses on the market at any time than can be sold at current prices. Sir Oliver found that major builders have many ways of maintaining the necessary supply of land, entering into options and agreements with land-owners well in advance of immediate need. . Currently in England, there are more than a million homes, all with planning permission, waiting to be built. This proposal perversely champions the myth that the more land that is made available, the faster new houses will be built.

For a recent update on the planning situation, click on this link.

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