New Planning Review Announced
At a speech delivered in Manchester at the end of July, the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised a new planning review. The new review is to be wide ranging and according to the Prime Minister “We will review everything – including planning regulations, stamp duty, housing zones, as well as the efficacy of existing government initiatives”.
This review appears to have general support within Johnson’s cabinet and from the Conservative Party as a whole. However, while it may have general support the review will have to please the cabinet members with very differing objectives of what they want from the review, and as a result no clear indication on what the review will actually cover.
While London Mayor, Johnson utilised the public sector to accelerate housing delivery, in the form of housing zones which provided greater flexibility for funding to enable housebuilding while also prioritising brownfield development.
Some members of cabinet are requesting free market approaches, letting the market dictate what the design quality of housing should be not to be dictated by the public sector.
Others prefer major infrastructure projects such as HS2 as ways of regenerating areas. Some support the increase of government powers in order to capture the uplifts in land value partly generated by planning permissions.
There is also the question of the Green Belt. Esther McVey, the new planning and housing minister, is committed to protecting and retaining the green belt but praises the release of public land for new homes but has publicly opposed major infrastructure such as High Speed Two. While other Cabinet members support the release of green belt where it was considered to not be performing the role to which it was designed.
Whereas Liz Truss wants planning-free zones to allow for experimentation without the usual regulatory control, in the form of ten freeports which would have a relaxed planning regime. This is a scheme which the TCPA has voiced some concerns linking them to the enterprise zones of previous Conservative governments in the 1980s, which were associated with poorly designed developments.
While the Planning Officers Society has raised concerns as to whether this new initiative will result in ongoing planning reviews being ditched, emphasising that the planning green paper is expected this autumn.