Onwards and upwards?

Legislation Update
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It has been a busy week of announcements for Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick.  Mr Jenrick hit the headlines by announcing that families will be able to add two storeys to their homes without planning permission ‘so your home can grow as your family does too’.   The government has been pursuing proposals to extend permitted development (PD) rights to allow additional housing above existing buildings for some time now, but previous consultation had focused on high street and town centre buildings.  The idea of widening PD rights further to also allow detached suburban properties to build upwards is inevitably proving more controversial. At this stage, the MHCLG has not published any detail confirming how the PD rights would work in practice and it will be interesting to see if these proposals are indeed taken forward.

Mr Jenrick also announced the publication of the National Design Guide which ‘sets out the characteristics of well-designed places and demonstrates what good design means in practice’ as well as a new green standard for all new build homes in an ambitious effort to cut carbon emissions by committing to removing traditional fossil fuels heating systems from 2025.

As is now a somewhat familiar pattern for an incoming Housing Secretary, Mr Jenrick has vowed to reform the planning system in an attempt to deliver more homes.  Taking to Twitter, he said ‘Change is coming to #planning. #planningrevolution’.  The accelerated planning green paper is to be published next month (Nov 2019) and will include a package of measures to try and speed up the ‘complicated and outdated planning system’ including:

– reducing planning conditions by a third;

– a review of application fees to ensure council planning departments are properly resourced;

– potential for more fees to be refunded if councils take too long to decide on specific planning applications;

– the introduction of a new tiered planning system; and

– consultation on demolishing old commercial buildings for new housing.

Whilst we of course welcome any efforts to remove unnecessary bureaucracy and delays in the planning system, previous attempts at reform have shown just how difficult it is to speed up the system without compromising the quality of decision making.  The accelerated planning green paper will hopefully shed more light on the latest wave of reforms and we wait to see if this really will be a #planningrevolution!