Conservative Party Proposals for a Reformed Planning System

The Tories have put out their Planning Green Paper.  I thought you’d be interested in what they are saying about transition arrangements which they plan to take effect between abolition of regional planning targets (as early as possible in their term of office) and implementation of their ‘Open Source’ Planning system which allows local planning authorities the freedom to decide on their own local plans:

While we are confident that the combination of collaborative democracy and our council tax, business rates and local tariff incentives will be sufficiently persuasive to encourage local authorities to embrace development, we will also legislate to ensure that the production of new local plans will be achieved within a reasonable timescale.

Specifically, we will legislate that if new local plans have not been completed within a prescribed period, then the presumption in favour of sustainable development will automatically apply. In other words, if a local planning authority does not get its local plan finalised in reasonable time, it will be deemed to have an entirely permissive planning approach, so all planning applications will be accepted automatically if they conform with national planning guidance. We will also put in place transitional arrangements to cover the implementation of our new planning system.

On the question of projected housing numbers, local planning authorities have already projected the number of houses they (as opposed to the regional authorities) believed would be necessary by 2026 for local needs – the so-called Option1 numbers – and where they might most sustainably be developed.

Unfortunately the present Government refused to believe that local authorities were capable of accurately gauging future local housing demand and, in many cases, interposed to impose significantly higher housing targets. We believe that the original, locally generated estimates are a reasonable assessment of housing need, including affordable housing. We therefore expect that these Option 1 numbers will be used by local authorities as the base-line for the projections that they provide to neighbourhoods at the start of the collaborative planning process, and will be used as provisional housing numbers in their Local  Development Frameworks until their new local plans are completed.

If I read all of this correctly, it means that the developers have free rein if Swindon’s local plan is not completed in ‘reasonable time’.  Furthermore, the original figures agreed by Swindon for the period to 2026 (which I believe are 5,000 or so short of what was eventually imposed on them by the region) will stand as the projections on which they must build their local plan.

NB. The Tory collaborative democracy model for bottom-up planning is absolutely in line with what South Marston is doing, but at the moment, it does not mean local people can veto decisions that will make it impossible for the local planning authority to deliver the target numbers that they, themselves, have determined are necessary.  See above (my underlining)

Sylvia Brown

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2 thoughts on “Conservative Party Proposals for a Reformed Planning System”

  1. There is nothing in the statement that suggests the Option 1 numbers are mandatory. just the word ‘expected’. It would therefore seem to me to be a basis for renegotiation.

    It is now blatantly clear with the changing economic climate and changing social policy by all parties over immigration the housing requirements nationally are grossly overstated.

    For Swindon with a minimum 15 year delay on any growth in the jobs market and redevelopment there will simply not be the housing need, except perhaps in the ‘affordable housing’ sector.

    South Marston now needs to lobby for a reduced number perhaps back to out original proposals. There simply is no money available for the infrastructure changes that would be necessary for the increases now proposed.

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