Updates on the planning reform agenda in the UK

Post Date
01 August 2023
Read Time
3 minutes
  • Planning

In the UK, the ongoing planning reform agenda continues to provide a nearly daily influx of information. There has been a great deal published and launched in the last week including consultations on new style local plans, permitted development rights, and operational reforms to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime, as well as the launch of further funding programmes for local planning authorities to support capacity. This is alongside updates on fee increases for planning applications and the loss of the free-go for repeat applications through draft regulations laid on the 20th of July.

National planning fees increase

With regard to the national planning fees increase, on the 20th of July, draft regulations were laid in Parliament to introduce a national planning fee increase of 35% for major applications and 25% for all other applications, including an indexation mechanism to allow for annual inflation-related adjustments in the future. The regulations also remove the ‘free-go’ for repeat applications and reduce the Planning Guarantee for non-major applications from 26 weeks to 16 weeks. The regulations need to receive parliamentary approval before coming into effect.

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP)

A public consultation has been published regarding operational reforms to the NSIP consenting process, which sets out the detailed proposals that the UK Government intends to make to reform the end-to-end process. This consultation builds on the measures set out in the NSIP Reform Action Plan, by setting out the key regulatory and guidance changes that the Government is looking to take forward to ensure the existing system can support the UK’s future infrastructure needs by making the NSIP consenting process better, faster, greener, fairer and more resilient by 2025.
The proposals fall broadly into 3 reform areas:
1. Operational reform to support a faster consenting process;
2. Recognising the role of local communities and strengthening engagement; and
3. System capability - building a more diverse and resilient resourcing model.

Reforms to the local plans and minerals and waste plans system

Finally, a 12-week public consultation on reforms to the local plans and minerals and waste plans system were launched this week. This consultation seeks views on proposals to implement the parts of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill which relate to plan-making, to make plans simpler, faster to prepare, and more accessible.

Proposals include:

  • A single local plan instead of multiple documents
  • National development management policies
  • A timeframe of 30 months to prepare and put in place a local plan

Additionally, a new type of plan called a “supplementary plan” is proposed to help planning authorities react quickly to changes in their areas by producing a plan that has the same weight as a local plans.

The intention is to have in place the regulations, policy and guidance by autumn 2024 to enable the preparation of the first new-style local plans and minerals and waste plan. It would be 2027 at the earliest that we would therefore see this style of local plan.

To discuss how these changes affect you, or for support with your own project, please get in touch.

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