Telegraph The three way zoning principle similar to that in a Policy Exchange
New homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will be given an automatic “permission in principle” in swathes of the country, under Boris Johnson’s plan for the biggest overhaul of the planning system since the Second World War.
The Prime Minister is preparing to slash red tape to produce “simpler, faster” processes as part of a “once in a generation” reform of the system.
It will see the entire country split up into three types of land: areas designated for “growth”, and those earmarked for “renewal” or “protection”.
Writing in the Telegraph, Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, describes the country’s planning system as “complex and slow”. He reveals that under the new system, “land designated for growth will empower development – new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will be allowed automatically. People can get going.”
The shake-up will form the centrepiece of Mr Johnson’s plans to significantly increase the rate of construction in the UK and to “build build build” in order to help build homes and revive the economy following the national lockdown.
As part of the reforms, Mr Jenrick is planning a “digital transformation” that would allow residents to view proposals for their area on interactive online maps, rather than viewing “notices on lampposts”.
Writing in the Telegraph ahead of a consultation to be launched this week, Mr Jenrick states that the existing system through which developers and homeowners seek permission to build “has been a barrier to building homes which are affordable, where families want to raise children and build their lives.”
Currently, it takes an average of five years for a standard housing development to pass through the planning system “before a spade is even in the ground.” The Government believes it can reduce the process by up to two years.
Mr Jenrick also warns that the system has caused delays to the construction of new hospitals, schools and road improvements, which are often needed alongside large housing developments.
Under the new system, councils will be asked to earmark land for “growth”, “renewal”, or “protection”, following a planning process to which residents will be asked to contribute.
A digital overhaul of the system will be designed to encourage locals to easily have a say in the creation of local design codes, which would set out the types of buildings that are acceptable in each area.
Developers would be given “permission in principle” for schemes in “growth” areas, with full consent provided once the council has confirmed that the design is in line with local development plans which stipulate the type of buildings that can be constructed on that land.
All proposals would also be checked against the design codes, which would be incorporated into the local plans.
Areas marked for “renewal” would largely encompass brownfield and urban sites. Ministers will consult on how a similar “permission in principle” could work in practice in these areas. One option is to require proposed buildings to be based on designs in official “pattern books”.
Protected areas will include Green Belt land and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Mr Jenrick states: “Our complex and slow planning system has been a barrier to building homes which are affordable, where families want to raise children and build their lives.”
He adds: “Under the current system, it takes an average of five years for a standard housing development to go through the planning system, before a spade is even in the ground.
“This is why the Prime Minister has been clear that we need an ambitious response that matches the scale of the challenge in front of us. A once in a generation reform that lays the foundations for a better future.”
Mr Jenrick insists that the Government is “cutting red tape, but not standards”, saying that the new model “places a higher regard on quality and design than ever before.”
He confirms plans to stipulate that every new street should be tree-lined unless there are exceptional reasons.
The system will incorporate a “model design code” based on recommendations from the Government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, stipulating minimum standards on the quality of design.