On 13 March the Chancellor Philip Hammond presented the Spring Statement to Parliament, providing an update on the economic performance of the country, but also revealing the Government’s intentions as to various new planning measures aimed at increasing housing delivery.
In turn, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire issued a written ministerial statement adding flesh to the bones of the planning content of the Spring Statement.
Of particular interest to those involved in development will be:
- further changes to permitted development rights both in relation to the high street, and also allowing upwards extensions subject to prior approval (see more on this below).
- the confirmation of the projects awarded the next wave of the Housing Infrastructure Fund (some £717m).
- the Government’s commitment to stand behind £3bn of loans to housing associations (the Affordable Homes Guarantee).
- a further £1bn will be available to SME housebuilders (the ENABLE Build Guarantee Scheme).
- the announcement that MHCLG will issue guidance for planning authorities as to how to improve the diversity of homes on large sites (1500 homes or more), arising out of the Letwin Review’s findings on absorption rates.
- a forthcoming Green paper (date to be announced) regarding ‘Accelerated Planning’, to look at how to bring greater capacity and capability to the planning process (and no doubt taking in the findings of both the Letwin Review and the Rosewell Review regarding planning appeals).
- the commitment to adopt the Future Homes Standard by 2025, which will be consulted on during this year.
There will also be future consultations on:
- an Environmental Bill which it is mooted will require biodiversity net gain for all development.
- how local authorities might use planning tools more innovatively to support high streets (think Local Development Orders, CPO, i.e. tools already available that are sparingly used).
Further expansion to permitted development rights
In October 2018 MHCLG issued a consultation entitled ‘Planning Reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes’. The consultation closed in January of this year, with a formal response as to what steps will be taken up awaited. However, in the shadow of the Spring Statement, MHCLG has confirmed it will take forward expanded permitted development rights (‘PD rights’) to allow ‘A’ use classes greater flexibility to diversify into offices (B1) and residential (C3). Alongside this, as confirmed by James Brokenshire in his statement: ‘I will also shortly publish “Better Planning for High Streets”. This will set out tools to support local planning authorities in reshaping their high streets to create prosperous communities, particularly through the use of compulsory purchase, local development orders and other innovative tools’.
Secondly, whilst upwards extensions using PD rights is a contentious proposal, with design being a particular concern, the Government has confirmed it will implement this measure, presumably in much the same guise as it appeared in the October 2018 consultation. That is to say, it will be available for commercial and residential buildings to deliver ‘new homes to respect the design of the existing streetscape, while ensuring that the amenity of neighbours is considered’. The exact parameters of the right are discussed in the October 2018 consultation, but will no doubt be confirmed in the Government’s formal response to the consultation.
There are then a series of other comments on PD rights to report on, as follows:
- the PD right for larger household extensions will be made permanent, albeit a fee will be payable.
- the time limited right to change from storage to residential is not being extended beyond June this year.
a fillip for those frustrated by the delays in the appeals system, partly attributed to PINS being inundated by telephone kiosk related matters - the PD right in respect of new telephone kiosks is to be removed.
The Chancellor’s Spring Statement can be accessed in full here, and the related MHCLG statement here. The consultation on supporting the high street and delivering new homes, now closed, can be read here.