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The new planning reform bill: commentary

  • by JW

“The opposition to any erosion of the greenbelt is also hysterical. These are not sacred oases: they are cordons sanitaires intended to keep hoi polloi out of leafier areas.”


A good overview of all things planning is given in the monthly review from Historic England; and it starts with the Queen’s Speech from a couple of weeks ago:

Planning Reform in England Bill
• The new Planning Reform Bill will be introduced to parliament in the autumn. The main
elements of the Bill are:
o Changing Local Plans so they provide more certainty over the type, scale and
design of development permitted on different categories of land.
o Decreasing the time it takes for development to go through the planning system.
o Replacing existing systems with a more predictable and transparent levy.
o Simplifying and enhancing the framework for environmental assessments for
o Reforming the framework for locally led development corporations.

Historic England Planning Bulletin | Historic England

Planning Bulletin: May 2021


This has also excited every other group involved in ‘planning’.

The LGC is pretty supportive:

Five themes for planning reform in England | Local Government Chronicle (LGC)

As is the property development industry:

UK government introduces changes to planning rules for housing | News | Real Assets

Industry reacts to radical new planning reforms | Property Reporter


With ‘the usual suspects’ against:

AONBs ‘under threat from new housing like never before’, claims CPRE report | Planning Resource

‘It’s outrageous’: Greenbelt residents fear ‘open season’ for developers under Government’s new Planning Bill


Politics is inevitably a big part of the picture:

The Prime Minister will put home ownership at the centre of the proposals to keep his new constituents in former Labour ‘Red Wall’ seats on side. A planning bill, which is set to be included in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech, will aim at expanding property ownership in areas where the Tories have recently won…

Boris Johnson eyes overhaul of Britain’s planning laws for new homes to be built | Daily Mail Online

There have been no firm decisions – but several Conservative MPs and councillors have serious concerns about plans to change the planning system. They say the proposals could lead to substandard homes in the wrong places, with local views being overlooked or ignored…

Government pushes Planning Bill forward as critics question ‘free for all’ – BBC News

Theresa May has said that the government’s Planning Bill will put the “wrong homes in the wrong places” and countryside campaigners said that the reforms would mean “open season for developers” in rural areas. Boris Johnson has set himself on a collision course with Tory MPs after unveiling proposals in his Queen’s Speech to deliver the biggest shake-up to the planning system in more than 70 years…

Theresa May leads Tory revolt over push for new housing | News | The Times (paywall)


The FT’s Chief Economics Commentator, Martin Wolf, gives his different and intelligent take on the issues: here are a couple of snippets:

Here are two facts about land use in England: houses and gardens occupy just 5.9 per cent of available land; and land with permission to develop can be worth 100 times as much as land without it. The notion that there is a shortage of land for additional housing is ludicrous. Moreover, the planning system is much the biggest market distortion in the economy: it is throttling supply, to the benefit of homeowners, who have made huge unearned gains.

But the idea that we have no land left for houses or that every bit of farmland has imperishable amenity value is absurd. Is it not far more important that children grow up in large houses with gardens? Are urban green spaces not far more valuable than vast acreages of monocrop production? The opposition to any erosion of the greenbelt is also hysterical. These are not sacred oases: they are cordons sanitaires intended to keep hoi polloi out of leafier areas…

Why radical reform of urban planning is essential | Financial Times