Planning Reform in the UK





Thanks to a government reshuffle in September, we saw Mr Jenrick leave his position and Mr Gove take on his new role as Housing Secretary. With later confirmation that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government was to become the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Since this change and other topics and issues taking precedence within the government, the question of planning reform within the UK has taken a back seat. So, is this still on the government’s agenda and when will we see these changes implemented? Rosconn Strategic Land are keeping a watchful eye on the government’s discussions around planning reform and the proposed changes to the UK planning system. Since the government released the ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper last summer, this has created a great debate around our current planning system and the changes which are required to modernise it and meet local and national targets for housing development. The land promoters have helped to give an overview.


The suggested changes to the planning system

Within the introduction of the Planning Bill last summer (2020), the Government have stated they want to simplify the planning system in the UK, removing red tape and helping to speed up the rate of housing development in the UK.

The planning white paper, released in August put forward several suggestions which need to be implemented in order to reform the current system, this included:

  • Reduce the length of time it takes a development site to be processed through the planning system
  • Make the planning system more accessible to the public, gaining their trust once more in this system
  • Modernisation and digitalisation of the system
  • Reform the planning system so that it works alongside the Government’s goals for sustainable developments

The government’s aims are for these reforms  to make the planning system more accessible to the public and simpler to navigate in general, as well as to help young people get on the property ladder.


When will proposed changes to the planning system be made?

Chief Planner at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) stated that planning reforms were ‘still on the horizon’, despite being unable to give a response to the government’s proposals within the white paper published well over a year ago. Reassuring those in attendance of the HBF Policy Conference (10th November 2021) that some proposals had already been put in place.

Gove to put a ‘pause’ on reform timescale

In comments to the House of Commons Select Committee (8th November) Michael Gove was more open. Stating that although plans for reform were not to be abandoned by his new department, he would be pausing the implementation of these changes. He stated his need to review some of the suggestions put forward last year, since several could now be considered outdated. In particular the goal of 300,000 new homes to be built per year in England may be ambitious since costs for labour and materials have increased as a result of the pandemic.

Gove did provide some reassurance around the reforms as he has confirmed some proposals have already been put in place. This included the digitalisation of processes within the planning system.

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