With the new year now here, we look at ten key planning changes which are due in 2017:

1. Housing White Paper- This was expected today, but we understand that its publication will be pushed back and there have been rumours that it might not be out until March 2017 whilst discussions with back-benchers continue.

2. Outcome of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) review- An independent panel (including our very own Michael Gallimore) was set up by the government in 2015 to review the CIL regime. The panel submitted its report to government last year and the government response is expected with the White Paper.

3. Revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)- The government proposed changes to the NPPF in December 2015. The proposals included changes to the definition of affordable housing; higher density development around commuter hubs and a new presumption in favour of brownfield housing development. The amendments were initially due to be announced in Autumn 2016, but have been postponed due to the Housing White Paper delay.

4. Supreme Court judgment on housing policy in the NPPF- This high profile appeal case (Suffolk Coastal District Council v Hopkins Homes Ltd and another) will be heard by the Supreme Court on 22 February 2017. The Supreme Court will consider the weight to be attached to policies relating to housing supply in national planning policy. The judgment may have major implications for the development of windfall sites for housing.

5. Neighbourhood Planning Act- The controversial Neighbourhood Planning Bill is continuing its journey through the House of Lords. Its second reading is due to take place tomorrow. We do not have an enactment date yet, but it could be before the Summer.

6. Starter Homes- Two statutory instruments on starter homes are expected to come into force in Summer 2017. They will set out what constitutes a "starter home" and provide details on when starter homes are required. They will also include monitoring arrangements to ensure starter home delivery.

7. Shale Gas Fund Consultation Response- A response to the August 2016 consultation (which mooted the idea of paying community benefits from shale gas extraction directly to residents) is expected shortly.

8. Permission in Principle (PIP)- The concept of PIP was introduced by the Housing and Planning Act 2016. A PIP will automatically grant planning permission for housing-led development on certain sites. An application for technical detail consent (akin to a reserved matters application), will then need to be made, which, once granted, would result in a detailed planning permission. The statutory instruments needed so that PIP can be granted are due this year.

9. Planning agreement dispute resolution procedures- The Housing and Planning Act 2016 also included a new procedure to try to reduce the long delays often incurred in agreeing planning agreements. The new dispute resolution provisions are not yet in force, but are expected in 2017.

10. Upwards extensions for London housing- A government response to the consultation on London planning policy changes to allow upwards extensions for housing is awaited. The consultation sought views on three proposals to encourage the building of additional storeys to existing buildings in London:

  • a permitted development right (subject to obtaining local authority prior approval) for up to 2 additional storeys up to the roofline of an adjoining building;
  • London Plan policies to support upward extensions for new homes; and
  • London boroughs making local development orders to grant permission for upward extensions.

A More Predictable Year?

2016 will go down in history as a year of big surprises. We hope that this year will be more predictable, if only in terms of the planning changes ahead, and who knows, perhaps we will be pleasantly surprised by some of the announcements.