The Conservative's Green Paper ‘Strong Foundations: Building Homes and Communities’, published last week, proposes to ‘abolish the unsuccessful regional planning system’, ‘reverse the classification of gardens as brownfield land’, and ‘scrap the discredited Home Information Packs’. The underlying premise of the paper is that the planning system requires radical reform. This reform includes plans to:
- Abolish Regional Spatial Strategies and therefore enable councils to revise, in whole or in part, their existing Local Development Frameworks.
- Introduce a tax incentive by matching the additional council tax raised by each council for each new house built for each of the six years after that house is built.
- Enable the creation of Local Housing Trusts which will hold unparalleled power to develop new homes and community space subject to the agreement of local people.
- Introduce mandatory pre-application consultations between developers and local people for all major projects.
- Abolishment of the IPC with the systems already set up to be amalgamated into the Planning Inspectorate.
- A reworking of the appeal system, including, the introduction of third party rights of appeal, and a limitation to the rights of appeal for cases where there have been an “abuse of process” in a decision contrary to a Local Plan.
- Revisions to permitted development rights including a general right to change the use of any existing building to educational use.
- Simplification of PPGs and PPSs.
The recognition of the housing deficit and the need to maintain a 5 year supply of land for housing remains a top priority, alongside a “presumption in favour of sustainable development”. Although in the interim, draft RSS housing figures, supplied by local authorities, will be relied on.
In addition, the Party will seek a redefinition of Previously Developed Land, removing gardens and adding some agricultural uses.
The RTPI has broadly welcomed the Green Paper, but raise concern over the delays that such radical changes will bring to house building and the recovering economy. They state "We will be looking very closely at proposals that we have concerns about such as abolishing regional planning, enabling so-called third-party rights of appeal and introducing a presumption in favour of sustainable development, and will advise the Conservatives accordingly."