planning reform

Is there are glimmer of hope for planning reform?


There is a general consensus among developers and the business world that the planning system in England and Wales is dysfunctional to say the least. Rather than a system which has a rules-based presumption of approval if regulations set by local authorities are complied with, we have a system which looks at each application individually with the option for a range of vetoes from several sources which positively invites campaigners and local councilors to block planning applications even if they align perfectly with published local plans.

You may be asking, quite rightly, why it matters that planning is hard to come by?

Well, the unfortunate answer is that a mix of constrained supply, years of cheap credit and subsidies have created a bubble in the housing market putting average house prices at about nine times average earnings. In addition, the millstone of the current system is preventing investment in energy and transport infrastructure as well as preventing business growth, all of which create jobs, revenue, and employment across a wide range of sectors.

An example of the current planning system

As an example, under the current planning system an application for an onshore wind farm contains over 1,000 documents. Can we really expect an already under pressure local authority to process that kind of application and deal with the day-to-day applications of ordinary hardworking people who just want to extend their kitchen by say 10 feet?

What has new Chancellor Rachel Reeves said?

Chancellor Rachel Reeves made her first speech on the 8th of July 2024 with a hard focus on planning. The chancellor has committed to:

  • The reintroduction of mandatory housing targets for local authorities
  • An immediate end to the ban on in-shore wind farms
  • The creation of a task force to get stalled housing developments moving
  • Recruitment in the planning offices of local authorities
  • A plan to make decisions on large developments nationally and not locally

On the face of it all these statements are positive for the economy.

With our commitment to net zero and renewable energy it is, of course, important that the planning system does not prevent green energy projects and it is equally important that more houses are built, and businesses are allowed to grow.

We are sorely in need of growth in the economy and if the planning system can be overhauled to help investment and growth, we will all be better off as a result.

Whether the chancellor’s reforms deliver only time will tell, however, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

How Pinney Talfourd can help?

The commercial property team at Pinney Talfourd is here to assist with all legal matters related to commercial property and planning applications. To discuss your requirements further, please contact our team on 01277 211 755.

The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Julien Pritchard, Partner in the Commercial Property team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of July 2024.



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