Following the November 2017 Budget, it looks like the New Year will see a significant shake up of the planning system, with the introduction of a series of reforms. A number of key ones are set out below.
Planning Fee Increase
From 17 January 2018, Local Planning Authorities in England will be able to begin applying a planning fee increase of 20%. This change is being implemented following regulations introduced on 20 December 2017 which also brought in various additional fee changes, including a new fee of £402 per 0.1 hectares for Permission in Principle applications, and a fee of £96 for prior approval applications to permitted development rights that were introduced in April 2015 and April 2017.
A fee will also be introduced for applications for planning permission where Permitted Development Rights have been withdrawn, either by an Article 4 direction or by a condition. In addition, Mayoral and Urban Development Corporations will now be able to charge for pre-application services.
The hike in rates will see the standard application fee for each new dwelling go up from £385 to £462, a change which could potentially have a significant impact on overall costs, particularly for larger residential schemes. Householder applications e.g. for extensions to individual dwellings will see an increase from £172 to £206.The long-awaited fee increase, first proposed in the January 2017 Housing White Paper, is a move designed to enable over-stretched Local Planning Authorities to improve resources and therefore make planning decisions more quickly and efficiently.
Permitted Development Rights (PDR)
Permitted Development Rights (PDR) allow some works to be undertaken without applying for planning permission, including certain changes of use.PDR for the change of use from light industrial (B1(c)) to residential (C3) came into effect on 1 October 2017. This allows for the change of use of buildings up to 500m2 subject to prior approval by the Local Planning Authority. These rights will be for a temporary period of three years to enable local authorities to potentially withdraw these rights through Article 4 directions.
Neighbourhood PlanningNeighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to shape the development of their area through both setting planning policies which will be used in the determination of planning applications and granting planning permission through Neighbourhood Development Orders and Community Right to Build Orders.
From 31 January 2018, various updates to neighbourhood planning processes will come into force. The new regulations will introduce greater flexibility in the process of modifying neighbourhood plans to ensure they are kept up-to-date, that engagement in the process remains continuous and that they align with wider local development plan objectives. The regulations will also facilitate the modification of neighbourhood areas and provide for what is to happen to a neighbourhood development plan or order that is already in force. In addition, further details will soon be announced regarding the new 2018-22 Neighbourhood Planning Support Programme which aims to deliver continued support to communities who would like to, or are in the process of creating a neighbourhood plan or order.
Enhancing the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a tool that enables Local Authorities to raise funds to contribute to the infrastructure, services and facilities required to support new development.
Back in November, the Government announced a series of reforms to CIL including lifting the restriction on pooling Section 106 planning obligations where CIL has been introduced, where the authority is in a low viability area or where significant development is planned on several large sites. In addition, CIL will be made more market responsive by indexing rates to changes in house prices. The reforms will also allow Combined Authorities and planning joint committees to levy Strategic Infrastructure Tariff to raise funds for infrastructure, as well as speeding up the process of introducing and revising CIL.The Government has also clarified that should an applicant seek to vary a consent (s73) granted prior to the introduction of CIL, in an authority where CIL had now been introduced, then the development would be liable to CIL for any additional liability it introduces (such as increased floorspace for example).
Brownfield land registers and Permission in PrincipleThe deadline for local authorities to publish brownfield land registers passed at the end of 2017. These registers must contain up-to-date information on brownfield land suitable for housing.
The registers will be a vehicle for granting permission in principle. These applications are an alternative route for gaining planning permission which first establish whether a site is suitable, in principle, for residential development, followed by a second stage assessing detailed proposals. The Government has laid regulations allowing applications for Permission in Principle to be made for minor housing-led development which will come into force on 1 June 2018.
Requirement to review Local Development Documents every five years
Effective from 6 April authorities will need to assess the relevance and effectiveness of Local Plans no longer than every five years. If necessary, timetables will then be set to update the Plan.
Going into 2018 there are several important planning reforms which could potentially have wide-reaching impacts for a variety of stakeholders. Though not an exhaustive list, key changes include the increase in planning fees to be implemented from 17 January 2018, the introduction of additional PDR from light industrial to residential, changes to neighbourhood planning and CIL, new regulations regarding Permission in Principle and the need for authorities to review their plans no longer than every five years.
If you have any queries or require further information about the upcoming planning changes and their implications, please do get in touch.