The Latest on Planning Changes: Summary of Key Proposals

There looks to be a period of significant change ahead in the world of planning if emerging proposals come to full fruition. This document outlines a raft of proposed alterations spanning permitted development rights, policy changes, fees and more. I thought it worthwhile picking out the key developments and what we can expect.

Enhanced Flexibility on Permitted Development

A common thread across many proposals is increasing flexibility of permitted development rights for changes of use, especially to residential uses. Rights under Class M, N, MA and G are all slated for expansion, through increased size limits and reduced restrictions. The principle of enabling faster conversion to housing is clear.

New permitted development rights could also emerge for short-term holiday lets and fluid changes of use between C3 and a possible new C5 class properties for short-term and holiday lets. Added to the picture is a longer-term ambition for permitted rights to change hotels to residential.

Added flexibility for commercial spaces is mooted too – with doubled size limits for industrial extensions and new buildings.

Affordable Housing and Biodiversity Gain Now Obligatory

Other impactful proposals include a new mandatory minimum 10% biodiversity net gain requirement for commercial and residential development, to enhance natural habitats through planning gain.

On affordable housing, the document points to a £3 billion extension of the Affordable Housing Guarantee Scheme plus extra funding for temporary accommodation. Planning is being clearly leveraged to drive both environmental and social goals.

Elevated Status for National Policies and Community Influence

There is to be an elevation in the influence of national planning policies – meaning conflicts with Local Plans can be overridden more readily. The same goes for Neighbourhood Plans over Local Plans.

New initiatives around “Street Votes” and community land auctions are proposed to give communities greater influence over planning outcomes in their area.

Application Costs Set to Rise; Quicker Refunds as Concession

Those progressing through the planning process will have to contend with a 25-35% increase in planning fees. An annual inflation link will also push costs higher year-on-year.

The concession is quicker fee refunds for non-major apps – 16 rather than 26 weeks. But the financial impact is still likely to bite into viability.

Final Thoughts

If even half of the proposals summarised above (and more are covered in the full document) come into force, we’ll see major reforms across planning. The extent to which changes deliver positive outcomes rather than unintended consequences will be down to policy detail.

I’ll be keeping a close watch on how these regulatory changes translate into practical effects for planners, developers and communities. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch for updates or analysis on what it all means!

DRK Planning Ltd is a multi-disciplinary planning and development consultancy practice founded by David Kemp. With more than 20 years of experience in planning consultancy. DRK Planning provides a diverse range of expertise, adding value to owners and businesses through a wide range of property services.

If you have an enquiry about Permitted Development Rights – email info@drkplanning.co.uk we’re happy to discuss your project in an initial brief introductory call.