The Government's consultation on the "planning system of the future" closed on 29 October 2020. For a white paper, the consultation document contained a remarkable number of proposals for a reworked planning system for England. Many of the proposals are ambitious and would require primary legislation though some fundamental aspects of the system would remain.
WBD agrees with one of the white paper proposals which is to bring the Development Consent Order (DCO) regime into mainstream planning for large scale developments and new settlements. This will not only relieve the public purse in a time of extraordinary pressure on the exchequer, but also provide a choice of consenting mechanisms for investors and developers to build out large-scale developments, quickly and sustainably. The strength and certainty of the DCO planning process will be essential for powering the UK economy back to growth following COVID-19.
The potential for lessons to be drawn from the DCO process is considered in WBD's report: National Infrastructure Development Planning Review: Can DCOs help meet the challenges of our time? This research highlights that the clarity and certainty of the DCO process timetable ensures that infrastructure projects can move from planning into construction and operation quickly and seamlessly, because the fixed DCO decision-making timetable enables applicants to accurately forward plan for construction and operation. The research considers the role the DCO process could have in new settlements by preparing a National Settlements Strategy which identifies broad parts of the country suitable for new settlements/large scale developments. Consultation and engagement is key to the DCO process which also empowers local planning authorities to participate fully and effectively through the pre-application, examination, and post-consent stages.
We have also considered a number of the consultation proposals in further detail. In particular, if the proposals are an evolution or revolution for residential street design. We have considered the changes to CIL, S106 agreements and provision of affordable housing and the environmental aspects of the planning white paper.