The long awaited changes to the planning system are to be included in the ‘Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill’, which is expected to be published later today.
It is anticipated that the controversial zoning planning system (recommended in the 2020 ‘Planning For the Future’ White Paper) will be dropped, as this was deemed too controversial by many Tory MPs. Instead, the bill is likely to include a number of measures to ‘improve’ the planning system, including:
- Introducing ‘street votes’ which given local residents a chance to decide whether house extensions or other developments can go ahead;
- Introducing ‘local design codes’ to let communities set rules about the layout of new developments and materials which could be used;
- A new infrastructure levy (replacing the existing CIL system), which is expected to be based on the value of the property when it is sold, rather than when it gets planning permission;
- Measures to rejuvenate town centres, including a mechanism to force landlords of vacant units (potentially defined as vacant for 12 months) to rent commercial property on high streets through a ‘Compulsory Rental Auction’);
- Simplifying and standardising the process for preparing Local Plans in an attempt to ensure they are produced more quickly and are easier for communities to influence;
- Introducing a new approach to environmental assessment;
- Digitising the planning system, making plans more accessible online rather than relying on notices on lampposts.
The new bill is expected to be debated by Parliament in coming months and, if approved, become legislation later in the year.
More details to follow.