New planning freedoms

In light of recent events with Brexit and changes in government, a potentially far reaching provision of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 has come into force on the 13 July 2016, which you may not be aware of. 

Section 154 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 allows Councils to request "planning freedoms" from central government in return for committing to increases in housing provision.

The provisions allow a Council to request a scheme that dis-applies and modifies specified planning provisions in order to facilitate an increase in the amount of housing in the area concerned.

In order to implement the power, the Secretary of State has to be satisfied that there is a need for a significant increase in housing in the area and that the proposed modifications will contribute to such an increase and that adequate consultation has been carried out on the proposal. 

The guidance from the Department of Communities and Local Government clearly places the onus on local authorities to propose the types of autonomy they think they need in order to deliver additional housing.

There is no definitive guidance as to what the freedoms may involve however in the Garden Villages prospectus there is mention of the fact that freedoms may provide a greater ability to resist speculative residential planning applications and to continue protecting the green belt. 

Other issues that may be permissible under this freedom could be increasing planning fees in light of improved service delivery on delivering housing.

In light of the economic position many Councils find themselves in, it may be that the freedoms are used to generate further revenue. 

At present, the provisions are broadly drafted  but anyone involved in development would be well minded to keep an eye on any proposed consultations from local Councils that may seek to take advantage of these planning freedoms. 

It may be that interested parties actually approach Councils where there is a housing delivery issue to suggest what freedoms may work for them and the Council in order to achieve increased housing delivery.

It is very much a watching brief!

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