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“Build, Build, Build”: Understanding The Planning Reforms

Planning consultant David Kemp, director at DRK Planning Ltd, comments

Graucho Marx said: “My plans are still in embryo, a town on the edge of wishful thinking.”

On the 30 June 2020, PM Boris Johnson announced what he has touted as “the most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War, making it easier to build better homes where people want to live.”

Some of these reforms have already been introduced in detail, whilst others are yet to catch up with the speed of Ministerial press statements.

At a time when some sectors of the UK economy are still reeling from the shock of the lockdown, and others fearful still of the future and their ability to continue to trade effectively whilst precautionary measures remain in place, the Government has sent out a message that it wants to do all it can to get the economy back on its feet. According to the Government, there will be no return to the ‘Austerity Budgets’ of the post-credit crunch Cameronite policies. The plan is billed as Boris Johnson’s answer to F.D. Roosevelt’s post Great Depression reforms of 1933-1939.

However, what do we know, when will we know more and is it worth the hype?

New Storeys to Purpose Built Blocks of Flats
One of the first new reforms to be announced, the response to this reform amongst many developers has been muted to say the least.

The new law takes effect as an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, and will come into force on 1 August 2020.

There are no minimum size limits to the new units that can be created, and affordable housing requirements will not apply. However, in order to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the new law, there are quite a few ‘boxes to tick’.

These criteria raise a number of key challenges of which developers need to be aware (see below).

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