Lawyers estimate 95% of councils will be vulnerable to speculative applications
Developers are lining up to take advantage of the planned presumption in favour of sustainable development, amid estimates that new rules will leave up to 95% of councils vulnerable to speculative applications.
Planning consultants have told Building they are being contacted by numerous developers looking to see if the planned change may aid the acquisition of new planning permissions.
Under draft proposals launched by the government last week, councils will, when local plans are out of date, have to prove that the negative impacts of a development “significantly and demonstrably” outweigh its benefits, in order to be able to turn down an application.
Planning lawyer Jay Das, partner at Wedlake Bell, estimates just 5% of planning authorities would have up-to-date plans by April next year – the point at which the new measures in last week’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) are set to come into force.
The figure is based on the fact that 70% of planning authorities have failed to put new-style plans in place since the last overhaul of the planning system in 2004.
Of the remaining 30%, Das said that so many councils were in the process of making revisions to the number of homes they were planning, only those recently approved were likely to pass.
She said the situation left UK green spaces under threat. “Developers are waiting for the window to take advantage of it.”
Ian Tant, partner at consultant Barton Willmore, said: “Even those councils who have recently reviewed their plans could find themselves out of date, because the abolition of regional strategies means they have to re-examine their housing requirements.”
Roger Hepher, head of planning at Savills, said: “A lot of developers are getting quite interested in this. [The NPPF] introduces a decisive shift towards promoting development and prioritising economic growth.”
The government detailed plans this week to ensure that all planning decisions are taken within 12 months of being submitted.