On 10 June 2021, the House of Commons, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee published its report on the future of the planning system in England. Chaired by Clive Betts MP, the Committee heard evidence regarding the Government’s proposed reforms to the planning system which were announced back in August 2020.

The reforms to the planning system, contained within Planning for the Future, White Paper and associated consultation are expected to progress through new legislation and amendments to national planning policy and guidance.

Last month The Queen’s Speech said that the Government intends to modernise the planning system in order to provide more homes.

The key takeaways from the report are:

  • The committee is “unpersuaded” by the Government’s proposed three zones approach and have recommended that the Government reconsider it.
  • The government needs to provide more information about the 300,000 a year housing target, including how this will be achieved in practical terms.
  • The report calls on the government to make sure all individuals still have an opportunity to have their say on individual planning proposals
  • On the Housing Formula, government has been asked to explain how the 20 towns and cities were chosen to up their housing targets.
  • A clear timeframe is also needed for delivering First Homes without adversely affecting other housing tenures
  • There is a need for additional resources for planning departments, and specialist skills. The pressures on the system will only increase if the Government proceeds with its reforms. The Government should now seek to obtain a Treasury commitment for an additional £500 million over four years for local planning authorities.

In their report, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee have critised and questioned housing secretary Robert Jenrick’s white paper from last year, intended as the foundation for forthcoming legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech.  The committee have urged the Government to proceed with caution and do more research before progressing the Planning Bill.

Since this time last year and the PM’s ”Build Build Build” dictat, the government has continued to make promises that “radical” changes are coming that will lead to more and better homes being built.

The committee have rightly questioned the promises made by the government and importantly asked them to be more specific on how their targets will be met – particularly in their aim to build 300,000 new homes a year.

We welcome any changes to the planning system that will lead to more houses being built to meet demand and increasing resources and skills within planning departments will indeed be step in the right direction.

We look forward to seeing how the Government will respond to Committee’s report and how they will  reflect upon the recommendations in the preparation of the Planning Bill which is expected to be introduced later this year.

Anyone who needs more information on the Future of the Planning System and housing delivery should contact Cheffins on planning@cheffins.co.uk