In June the Government announced the response to a consultation it held in March on proposed measures to improve the performance of local planning authorities. The Government proposes to increase the threshold for the designation of local planning authorities as poorly performing, based on the speed of deciding applications for major developments. So far, only one local planning authority, Blaby District Council, has been designated as poorly performing. This means that planning applications can be made directly to the Secretary of State, bypassing the authority. However we expect further authorities to be put into special measures with the introduction of the higher threshold.

As part of the March consultation the Government also provided details of a planning reform it first announced in last year’s Autumn Statement to scale back the imposition of Section 106 affordable housing contributions on small-scale development. The Government proposes to restrict the use of affordable housing contributions where sites contain 10 or fewer units with a maximum combined gross floor space of 1,000 square metres. The Government’s response to this aspect of the consultation is awaited and the final details of the reform remain to be published.

We expect a busy year ahead with planning reform remaining at the top of the Government’s agenda.