The Conservative Party held their annual conference in Manchester between 29th September and 2nd October 2019. Announcements were made on a number of planning related matters, some of which will be included in the Accelerated Planning Green Paper expected to be published in November 2019:
Permitted Development Rights
The government will proceed with a new permitted development right to allow upwards extensions of certain buildings by up to two storeys as part of its plans to meet the ambitious target of 300,000 new homes a year. It is expected that the right will come into force in Autumn 2019 and will apply to buildings that are in uses deemed to be compatible with residential use such as existing dwellings, shops, offices, and restaurants and cafes.
In addition, there will be a new right to demolish commercial buildings to allow for the provision of housing via a two stage Permission in Principle route with local authorities able to consider issues like quality, the facade, height and parking provision.
There is also expected to be a review of existing permitted development rights, specifically office to residential, in order to improve standards and living conditions.
New National Model Design Code
The government is expected to publish a National Model Design Code next year which would be capable of being a material consideration in planning applications and appeals. Local authorities will be required to produce their own local variations following consultation with local residents, heritage and environmental groups in their area. The Code will be informed by the final report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission and will be consulted upon in early 2020.
Planning Application Fees
Councils will be allowed to raise planning application fees in return for higher quality services and there will be an automatic rebate if deadlines are missed.
There is an ambition to reduce planning conditions by a third which follows on from the recent reforms restricting the use of pre-commencement conditions in order to enable development to start on site at the earliest opportunity.
Simplification of the Planning System
A more user-friendly tiered system will be introduced, designed specifically to simply the process for small developers and householders.
Town Centre Reform
Ministers are considering whether further planning reforms would help people assemble land, regenerate land and get housing into town centres to allow them to thrive. The Use Class Order will be reviewed given it restricts change of use between different high street uses and does not currently accommodate mixed-use shops.
A new £25 billion infrastructure delivery plan was introduced for rural areas including 14 new local road schemes, a £220 million scheme to transform bus services, and new plans to invest £5 billion to support the roll-out of full-fibre, 5G and other gigabit-capable internet networks in the hardest to reach 20% of the country.
Green Belt Policy
There will be no change to green belt policy following earlier advice from Centre for Cities that 2.1 million new homes could be delivered by realising green belt land within 800 metres of any train stations which have a service of 45 minutes or less to a major city.
Changes to Part L and Part F of the Building Regulations for new dwellings
A consultation was launched on 1st October on stronger building regulations that will pave the way for the Future Homes Standard. Views are being sought on how changes to building regulations can drive down the carbon footprint of homes built after 2025 including changes to the ventilation and efficiency requirements as well as the role of councils in getting the best energy standards from developers. The consultation will run until January 2020 and can be found at:
If you would like to discuss any of the announcements highlighted above, please contact our team.