Everything in todays press release is old news apart from the section on Planning Reform
This government believes that wherever possible, planning decisions should be made by local people. We will cut back on red tape and endless planning documents to focus on what people care about – local roads, schools and homes that meet their needs. That means giving local people more of a say on where new homes go and what they look like. We will also take action on councils that have failed to produce a plan for the homes their community needs – ensuring plans are written for those areas.
Note the language ‘wherever possible, planning decisions should be made by local people‘ but ‘We will also take action on councils that have failed to produce a plan for the homes their community needs – ensuring plans are written for those areas‘.
Clearly a shift in language from the Localism act no longer an unqualified devolution – rather a centralisation where local authorities have not produced a local plan. Even the language on the Green Belt is more centralist ‘continuing to protect the green belt for local people’ – read what we dont take out of the Green Belt we will leave for local people.
Clearly the whole agenda of the Localism Act and Planning reform has failed. Rather than a flourishing of neighbourhood plans increasing housing allocations allocations have shrunk, the threat of appeal led planning was no incentive to produce local plans as local authorities found it easier to leave decisions to inspectors on appeal and blame the government. The government bottled it anyway before the election and massively watered down the NPPF regime – a stick led system wont work without the bug stick so the government needs a plan B. Hence with the failure of the duty to cooperate to provide an incentive to fill the void – Turkeys dont vote for Christmas – it looks likley the government is going down the track of consultant led planning where local plans are not in place. Of course the biggeer problem now is not where there are no local plan but have local plans are in place but massively out of date, underestimating housing numbers. What happens in a consultant led system when one authority says to another take my green belt overspill. From locally led Garden Cities do we now get Consultant led Garden Cities?
It also appears the rumors of ministers ‘loosing faith’ in the Local plan led system are true and we will get ultra slim plans approved through an ulra slimmed down process. The minimum of consultation and possibly a very short informal hearing. Of course inspectors and consultants will still be snowed under with representations.
The brownfield homes ‘announced’ and expectedly magically to appear once housing zones have been declared (never mind the masterplanning) would be less than two years supply. So this round of planning reform will last another two years or so before it is shown to fail.