In a nutshell – planning for the future white paper

09 / 08 / 20

The recent published White Paper called ‘Planning for the Future’ sets out a number of reforms to the planning system with the aim of building more homes and building them at a quicker rate.

Here is a summary of the key aims of the White Paper:

  • To move the democracy forward in the planning process and give neighbourhoods and communities an earlier and more meaningful voice in the future of their area as plans are made, harnessing digital technology to make it much easier to access and understand information about specific planning proposals
  • To improve the user experience of the planning system by making planning information easier to find and understand
  • To support home ownership, helping people and families own their own beautiful, affordable, green and safe homes, with ready access to better infrastructure and green spaces
  • To increase the supply of land available for new homes where it is needed to address affordability pressures, support economic growth, the renewal of our towns and cities, and foster a more competitive housing market
  • To promote the stewardship and improvement of our precious countryside and environment, maximise the development potential of brownfield land, support net gains for biodiversity and the wider environment, and actively address the challenges of climate change
  • To create a virtuous circle of prosperity in our villages, towns and cities, supporting their ongoing renewal and regeneration without losing their human scale, inheritance and sense of place.  This means building more homes at gentle densities in and around town centres and high streets, on brownfield land and near existing infrastructure so that families can meet their aspirations.

The Government’s focus on ‘Build Build Build’ is driven by a post Covid19 economic recovery and an ambition to make housing more affordable.  In effect, it is an economic attempt to lower housing prices by increasing supply.

House prices are invariably set by the sellers and less influenced by the supply and it will certainly be difficult to see developers and homeowners willingly lowering house prices in the future. Whilst the Government has its ‘help to buy scheme’ it is in effect a loan, and perhaps part of these reforms might be better focused on more direct financial support for buyers rather than indirect attempts at tampering with an inflexible market.


What will be the impact on the proposed Garden Community?

It is early days and it is clear that the proposed reforms have been met with a mixed response. There are already fears about uncontrolled development, lower building standards and changes in funding for infrastructure.

Local Plans will become mandatory for all Councils and whilst the White Paper is full of aspirational phrases in regard to local democracy and community involvement, it could mean that decisions will be pushed ahead more quickly.

Conversely, local councils would be required to review their Local Plans within a 30-month period, which may mean they will have to focus on more deliverable targets and schemes, rather than pursuing over ambitious projects.

It is difficult to predict how the Government’s proposed changes to the planning system will affect Maidstone Borough Council’s Local Plan Review at this stage, but we will keep you posted on any further developments.

Consultation on the ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper started on 6 August and will last for 12 weeks. To read the White Paper and get involved in the consultation click here.