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5.1. It is important that in bringing forward reform to improve the operation of the planning system, we do not cause delays to development that is currently planned.
5.2. Subject to responses to this consultation, we will consider the arrangements for implementing these changes to minimise disruption to existing plans and development proposals and ensure a smooth transition. This includes making sure that recently approved plans, existing permissions and any associated planning obligations can continue to be implemented as intended; and that there are clear transitional arrangements for bringing forward new plans and development proposals as the new system begins to be implemented. 5.3. Nevertheless, we do want to make rapid progress toward this new planning system. We are already introducing a new Use Class Order, with associated permitted development rights, to make easier for businesses to change use without the need for planning permission to support our high streets and town centres bounce back following the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also created new permitted development rights to enable more new homes to be built on top of buildings and the demolition and rebuild of vacant buildings for housing, without the need for usual planning permission.
5.4. Today, we are also publishing a consultation on four shorter-term measures which will improve the immediate effectiveness of the current system: • changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need, which as well as being a proposal to change guidance in the short term has relevance to proposals for land supply reforms set out in this paper; • securing of First Homes, sold at a discount to market price for first time buyers, including key workers, through developer contributions in the short term until the transition to a new system; • temporarily lifting the small sites threshold, below which developers do not need to contribute to affordable housing, to up to 40 or 50 units; • extending the current Permission in Principle to major development so landowners and developers now have a fast route to secure the principle of development for housing on sites without having to work up detailed plans first;
5.5. This consultation document can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-current-planning-system
5.6. To provide better information to local communities, to promote competition amongst developers, and to assist SMEs and new entrants to the sector, we will consult on options for improving the data held on contractual arrangements used to control land. This can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/transparencyand-competition-a-call-for-evidence-on-data-on-land-control
Public assets and investment
5.7. As we fix our planning system, we also want to make better use of surplus land owned by the public sector, and to level up public investment in development to support renewal of towns and cities across the country, giving power to communities to shape its future use and bringing investment to places across the country. We will do this by: • • Ensuring investment in new public buildings supports renewal and regeneration of town and city centres across the country. The Government Estate Strategy (GES), which was published in 2018, sets out how we will use the estate as an enabler to deliver better outcomes for the public, across all four nations of the UK. As part of this, the Government Hubs programme aims to transform the Government’s office estate by accommodating departmental workforces in shared regional hubs and supporting office estate – creating strategic hubs across the UK in major city centre conurbations and in secondary towns and cities. We will continue to look at how the Government can ensure investment in its estate delivers wider benefits for places across the country. • Exploring how disposal of publicly-owned land can support the SME and self build sectors. As announced by the Prime Minister last month in ‘A New Deal for Britain’, the Government will produce a new cross-government strategy on how land owned by the Government can be managed and released more effectively and put to better use. As part of this review, we will explore how we can support SME housebuilders, community land trusts and self-builders to identify public land opportunities.
Supporting innovation in delivery
5.8. As we bring forward planning reform, we also want to ensure we have in place the right delivery mechanisms, including development corporations. A good example that we are already progressing is development at Toton in the East Midlands, where we have announced our intention to support the establishment of a development corporation to maximise the area’s international links and create tens of thousands of new homes and jobs. We want to see more schemes of this kind, backed by modern delivery models, around the country.
5.9. That is why we consulted at the end of last year on changes to the legislative framework for development corporations. This includes exploring whether we need to make changes to enable more flexible development corporation models that can drive housing, regeneration and employment. We are currently considering responses to the consultation and will respond to it shortly. Making sure the system has the right people and skills.
5.10. Local planning authorities remain at the heart of our ambitious reforms. We want to free up planners to focus on what they were trained for – creating great communities through world-class civic engagement and proactive plan-making, rather than reactive development management.
5.11. We recognise that local planning departments need to have the right people with the right skills, as well as the necessary resources, to implement these reforms 56 successfully. Many local authorities are delivering great services, and through the COVID-19 pandemic have been able to transform the way they work to a more digital and modern service. We look forward to seeing evaluations and lessons learned so that we can use this as a catalyst for modernisation of our planning services.
5.12. But we know that local authority planning departments are under great pressure – with spending per person on planning and development down 60 per cent and shortages of specialist skills such as design and ecology.19 And the technology in local planning authorities to support modern services is not there – whilst Prop-Tech firms are developing new apps and other digital services that enable communities to engage with development in new ways, in few places can this be captured by the local authority. Instead, documents are submitted electronically, but not in the way of modern digital services such as those now supporting tax services.
5.13. The preparation of reformed Local Plans, development of new design codes, a major overhaul of development contributions, and a new streamlined approach to decision-making will have profound implications for how local planning authorities operate in future. They will need to have sufficient leadership, a strong cadre of professional planners and good access to technical expertise, as well as transformed systems which utilise the latest digital technology. But equally importantly, there must be a fundamental cultural change on how planning departments operate. They need to be more outward looking, proactively engaging with developers, businesses, architects and designers, as well as a wider cross-section of their local communities. 5.14. In particular, we envisage the focus of local planning authorities shifting towards the development of clear Local Plans and high-quality design codes which set the parameters for development – rather than making discretionary decisions based on vague policies. In doing so, there is a real opportunity for planners to redesign their individual roles and change perceptions of their profession. We will consider how best to support the planning profession in making this adjustment, in a way which supports culture change, improves recruitment and changes perceptions of planning.
5.15. In addition, other key players, including the Planning Inspectorate and statutory consultees, will have to transform the way they operate in response to these reforms, given their critical role supporting the preparation of Local Plans and decision-making. They too will need to be more responsive and outward looking, and have the necessary skills and resources to undertake their new roles.
5.16. We understand why many participants – not just local authorities, but statutory consultees and the Planning Inspectorate – are risk averse. Judicial review is expensive, and to lose a judicial review in the courts is bad for the reputation of either. And judicial reviews can be precedent setting, establishing a new interpretation of the law. We think the proposals set out in the document should remove the risk of judicial review substantially. Most judicial reviews are about imprecise and unclearly worded policies or law. Our plans for an overhaul of 19 Institute for
Planning law to create simple and clear processes and for plans that set out clear requirements and standards will substantially remove the scope for ambiguity and therefore challenge.
"19" Institute for Fiscal Studies (2019) “English local government funding: trends and challenges in 2019 and beyond”, Here
As we develop our final proposals for this new planning system, we will develop a comprehensive resources and skills strategy for the planning sector to support the implementation of our reforms. In doing so, we propose this strategy will be developed including the following key elements:
We will seek to strengthen enforcement powers and sanctions
6.1. The proposals in this paper apply to England only. Planning is devolved in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
6.2. Subject to the outcome of this consultation, we will seek to bring forward legislation and policy changes to implement our reforms. This consultation sets out our vision for the basis of a reformed planning system. We have not comprehensively covered every aspect of the system, and the detail of the proposals will need further development pending the outcome of this consultation. We will continue to develop the proposals as we gather feedback and views on them.
6.3. Our proposals for Local Plan reform, changes to developer contributions and development management would require primary legislation followed by secondary legislation. The proposals allow 30 months for new Local Plans to be in place so a new planning framework, so we would expect new Local Plans to be in place by the end of the Parliament.
6.4. We would implement any policy changes, including to set a new housing requirement, by updating the National Planning Policy Framework in line with the new legislation. Responding to this consultation EQUALITIES IMPACTS
6.5. We want all communities, families, groups and individuals to have a say in the future of the places where they live. For too long, planning and planning decisions have felt out of reach from too many people. The Government has heard how the combination of technical jargon and traditional models of community engagement discourages people from having their say on decisions. At the same time, it disproportionately encourages engagement from people from a narrow set of demographic groups – typically older, better off and white. We believe that the voices of those who may benefit most from new development are therefore often the quietest in the planning process.
6.6. We are committed to delivering wider engagement in planning, increasing the supply of land for development, and supporting inclusive and mixed communities. Some authorities and developers are pioneering new models of engagement that broaden this to different groups. We hope that the reforms set out in this consultation – to make the system more accessible, accountable, digital and transparent – will increase access and engagement for all groups up and down the country.
6.7. We would welcome views on the potential impact on the proposals raised in this consultation on people with protected characteristics and whether further reforms could broaden access to planning for people in diverse groups.
26. Do you have any views on the potential impact of the proposals raised in this consultation on people with protected characteristics as defined in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010
The Response - (MG)
Comment - With reference to 59
While agreeing to the statement in part, I feel that the system is mainly at fault by being to jargon loaded which makes it inaccessible by busy working people (example the recent failed Wealden Local was in total 10000 pages long including all supporting documentation). Regarding the demographics of those that get involved it is way off the mark, many other demographic sectors in my area are concerned and get involved.
Any discouragement to become involved is often fuelled by all levels of government not listening, example (a recent planning application in Wealden had 1000 residents objections, parish council objections, heritage objections by its own officer) this then leads to residents' saying "what's the point they won't listen anyway'.
Being part of the demographic group, you describe it leads me to conclusion, that I could in future have my views discriminate against.
The statement made me feel 'belittled' and worse than 'not valued’ and is patronising to the extreme.
Yes, the system should be accessible to all, but you designed the system so please do not denigrate those that have the will and the drive to challenge the system you designed.
The Response - (SB)
This consultation document and consultation process have been planned to adhere to the Consultation Principles issued by the Cabinet Office.
Representative groups are asked to give a summary of the people and organisations they represent, and where relevant who else they have consulted in reaching their conclusions when they respond.
Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal data, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information regimes (these are primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA), the General Data Protection Regulation, and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
If you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, as a public authority, the Department is bound by the Freedom of Information Act and may therefore be obliged to disclose all or some of the information you provide. In view of this it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the Department.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will process your personal data in accordance with the law and in the majority of circumstances this will mean that your personal data will not be disclosed to third parties. A full privacy notice is included at Annex A.
Individual responses will not be acknowledged unless specifically requested.
Your opinions are valuable to us. Thank you for taking the time to read this document and respond.
Are you satisfied that this consultation has followed the Consultation Principles? If not or you have any other observations about how we can improve the process please contact us via the complaints procedure.
The following is to explain your rights and give you the information you are be entitled to under the data protection legislation.
These rights apply to your personal data (your name, address, and anything that could be used to identify you personally) not the content of your response to the consultation.
1. The identity of the data controller and contact details of our Data Protection Officer The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the data controller. The Data Protection Officer can be contacted at email@example.com
2. Why we are collecting your personal data Your personal data is being collected as an essential part of the consultation process, so that we can contact you regarding your response and for statistical purposes. We may also use it to contact you about related matters.
3. Our legal basis for processing your personal data Article 6(1)(e) of the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GPDR) provides that processing shall be lawful if processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller. Section 8(d) of the Data Protection Act 2018 further provides that this shall include processing of personal data that is necessary for the exercise of a function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown or a government department. The processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The task is consulting on departmental policies or proposals or obtaining opinion data in order to develop good effective government policies in relation to planning.
4. With whom we will be sharing your personal data We will not share your personal data with organisations outside of MHCLG without contacting you for your permission first.
5. For how long we will keep your personal data, or criteria used to determine the retention period. Your personal data will be held for two years from the closure of the consultation.
6. Your rights, e.g. access, rectification, erasure The data we are collecting is your personal data, and you have considerable say over what happens to it. You have the right: a. to see what data, we have about you b. to ask us to stop using your data, but keep it on record c. to ask to have all or some of your data deleted or corrected d. to lodge a complaint with the independent Information Commissioner (ICO) if you think we are not handling your data fairly or in accordance with the law. You can contact the ICO at https://ico.org.uk/ , or telephone 0303 123 1113.
7. Storage of your personal data The Data you provide directly will be stored by MHCLG’s appointed third-party on their servers. We have taken all necessary precautions to ensure that your rights in terms of data protection will not be compromised by this. If you submit information to this consultation using our third-party survey provider, it will be moved to our secure government IT systems at a date following the consultation publication date. 8. Your personal data will not be used for any automated decision making.