In March, housing secretary Robert Jenrick outlined a number of measures to reform the English planning system. Announcing his plan the day after the Budget (11 March), he said the proposals would create a more efficient planning system, enabling more houses to be built in the places where people want them. Jenrick promised that the white paper would be “ambitious” enough to create a “planning system truly fit for the 21st century”.

Planning for the Future included: fully digitising the planning system; setting a deadline of December 2023 for completion of all local plans in England before government intervention; and extending permitted development rights. Jason Lowes, Town Planning at Rapleys spoke to The Planner and give his view on this ambitious measurement.

The need for speed

Many people involved in the planning process will have experience of “multi-dimensional delays” due to the planning system’s complexity and the lack of resourcing at a local level, said Jason Lowes, partner in the planning team at Rapleys.

“One of the government’s main priorities should be to speed up the planning system and create more certainty in the development management process, and aid better decision-making. The Planning for the Future paper indicates that the planning white paper will contain a number initiatives aimed at streamlining the system – for example, zoning tools – which, if done properly and effectively, have the potential to have a long-lasting impact to help meet housing need.”

Connected to this is the need to speed up the system to meet the demand for housing and, said Lowes, developers “will no doubt welcome” further extensions to permitted development rights. In doing this, the government needs to ensure that permitted development rights help to increase housing supply, he urged, “whilst also being mindful that the focus on streamlining the delivery of housing should not be at the expense of the quality of accommodation or design”.

“The government appears to be going in the right direction to continue to utilise permitted development rights as a means to drive forward housing, whilst also confirming that changes will have regard to design, and meeting light standards, all of which should be welcomed and it will be interesting to see the detail on this.”

Read The Planner article in full, which includes other professionals opinions on the White Paper.

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