'The most radical changes to planning since the Second World War'

By Imogen Haig
9th July 2020

A new announcement made by the government on 30 June 2020 promises the ‘most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War’ and pledges a ‘new approach’ to planning, aimed at making ‘it easier to build better homes where people want to live’.

The announcement was about a number of specific initiatives, but as for policy, the government will launch ‘soon’ a ‘bold’ and ‘creative’ planning white paper ‘setting out our plan for comprehensive reform of England’s seven-decade old planning system’.

The specific initiatives outlined were as follows:

A ‘wider range of commercial buildings will be allowed to change to residential use without the need for a planning application’.

  • More types of commercial premises will receive ‘total flexibility to be repurposed’ through reform of the Use Classes Order.
  • Builders will no longer need a ‘normal planning application to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes’.
  • Property owners ‘will be able to build additional space above their properties via a fast track approval process, subject to neighbour consultation’.
  • All proposed planning changes would be due to come into effect ‘by September’
  • The statement also reheated a previously announced £12 billion programme to support up to 180,000 new affordable homes for ownership and rent over the next five years; with;
  • A 1,500-unit pilot of “First Homes” for sale to first-time buyers at a 30 per cent discount to be included in the £12 billion programme.
  • The Prime Minister’s announcement included £450 million in additional funding for the Home Building Fund.
  • Johnson announced the first allocations from the £400 million Brownfield Land Fund to support the development of about 24,000 homes.
  • The Prime Minister revealed that work will begin on an ‘ambitious cross-government strategy’ looking at how public sector land can be managed and released so it can be put to better use.

CPRE Berkshire continues to be involved in planning decisions across the county, campaigning where necessary to protect the Green Belt, green spaces and the AONB. Most recently this included a successful campaign to stop a new housing development on the last remaining piece of Green Belt land between Holyport and Maidenhead. We are currently campaigning to prevent an inappropriate and large-scale housing development in the Green Belt at Jealott’s Hill, Bracknell. We await the White Paper with interest and will be ready with our formal response when it is published.