Planning Discussion: Proposed Housing and Planning Bill

The new Housing and Planning Bill has received its first reading in the House of Lords. There will now follow a second and third reading, followed by any amendments, before the Bill achieves Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament.

The new Bill has divided opinion across the spectrum of construction professionals and there is no doubt that it is proposing to introduce some significant changes to the planning system.

We have summarised below what we consider to be the most significant proposals:

New Starter Homes

The new Bill introduces a new class of housing called starter homes. This will be available only to first time buyers under the age of 40, to be sold at least 20% less market value and less than 250,000 pounds outside Greater London or 450,000 pounds inside Greater London. These starter homes will be a new requirement as a result of the grant of planning permission for a residential development. It is understood that these starter homes will be delivered to local planning authorities via a planning obligation, and will form part of a wider definition of affordable housing.

Self-Build and Custom House Building

This new class of housing is defined in the Bill as houses to be built by individuals, associations of individuals, or persons working with or for individuals or associations of individuals, and to be occupied as homes by those individuals. The new Bill requires Local Planning Authorities to grant planning permission for enough services plots of land to meet the demand for this new class of housing in their area. The demand for serviced plots must be monitored by the local planning authority on an ongoing basis.

Planning Permission in Principle

The Bill introduces a new form of permitting development to be known as Permission in Principle. This new permission can either be granted automatically via a Development Order in relation to land that is already allocated for development in a qualifying document such as a Local Plan, or by a local planning authority on application. An application for technical details consent must then be made afterwards, in either case, on the land on which Permission in Principle is in force. This application for technical details consent must include all matters necessary to enable planning permission to be granted.

Neighbourhood Planning

The new Bill proposed new changes to enable local planning authorities the power to designate neighbourhood areas. Additional changes have been introduced to speed up the Neighbourhood Plan process such as requiring local planning authorities to act by a prescribed date and imposing time limits for the submission of representations. The Bill also gives new powers to the Secretary of State to intervene if the local planning authority fails to fulfill their statutory duties within prescribed timescales.

Local Planning

The new Bill gives greater powers to the Secretary of State to intervene in the preparation of Local Plans if the Secretary of State thinks that a local planning authority are failing or omitting to do anything it is necessary for them to do in connection with the preparation, revision or adoption of a development plan document. In such cases the Secretary of State may prepare or revise the document or give directions to the local planning authority. The local planning authority must also reimburse the Secretary of State for any expenditure he incurs in preparing or revising a development plan document.

Permitted Development Rights

The temporary permitted development right which allows offices to be converted into homes has been made permanent. In addition the new plans will also allow office buildings to be pulled down and replaced with housing under permitted developments.

We will continue to monitor these changes as they progress through the House of Lords. For further information or to discuss your planning requirements, please contact David Jones