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There is No Time to Waste: Labour's Planning Reform Programme is here

Well, that was quick! Barely one working day into the new administration and Labour has laid out its programme of planning reform.

This morning*, the Chancellor gave her first speech in office and, boy, what a speech it was. 

The speech contained the outline of what we can expect from Labour over the next few months and, spoiler alert, we are going to be busy.

High level bullet points include:

  • A consultation on a new NPPF before the end of July, which will include a ‘return’ to mandatory housing targets.
  • A new policy statement removing the ‘ban’ on onshore wind, and a consultation to follow shortly on bringing onshore wind into the NSIP programme.
  • Priority will be given to energy projects that are already in the system. 
  • A new task force to be created to unlock housing sites which have stalled, including Liverpool central docks, Northstowe, Worcestershire Parkway and others.
  • Work to provide 300 additional planning officers across the country.
  • The Deputy Prime Minister to use powers to recover more appeals where economic interests are a key factor - with two data centre appeals already having been recovered this weekend.
  • The Secretary of State to write to all local planning authorities to confirm the need to ensure universal coverage of local plans, reviews of green belt boundaries (brownfield and grey-belt land to be key targets) and other key policy priorities. 
  • National Policy Statements for priority infrastructure to be updated by end of year. 

Some of these promises were met almost before the speech concluded, with the policy statement on onshore wind being published before the Chancellor had left the podium. For a quick and easy read on that statement - I recommend this post by the wonderful Claire Petricca-Riding.

I would not be surprised if other items on the list, such as the letter to Chief Planning Officer's followed before the end of the week.

We also have confirmation of our new Ministerial Team at DLUHC. Key appointments within the Department include:

Crucially, both Angela Rayner and Matthew Pennycook are in roles that they shadowed whilst in opposition - meaning that they have had time to get up to speed on both their proposed briefs and the new government's policy ambitions. Something that is likely to be very useful indeed as, if this morning was anything to go by, this administration has absolutely no intention of letting the grass grow under their feet…

If, by any chance, DLUHC are reading this post and are looking for some quick wins, I have a few suggestions that might be able to make a real difference in the short term. In no particular order, these include:

  • Implementing the new s.73B of the TCPA - to make it easier to amend existing planning permissions. 
  • Turning your attention to turbo-charging existing nutrient mitigation schemes, and creating more even national coverage, whilst you work towards a more strategic national solution; 
  • Introducing a similar package of measures to help ease the teething issues with the introduction of statutory BNG requirements in England; and 
  • Introducing a temporary measure that allows Homes England to grant fund s.106 Affordable Housing - to help unlock existing sites who are struggling to find a RP to take the standing stock. 

In the words of the Chancellor herself, there is no time to waste - so roll up your sleeves, it is going to be a busy old summer. 





*Whilst my toddler and I were hunting for a lost purple ukulele…. still not found. There may be a reward

Ms Reeves announced the government will:

• Restore mandatory housebuilding targets
• Build 1.5m homes by the end of this parliament - including affordable and council homes
• End the onshore wind farm ban
• Create a new task force to accelerate stalled housing sites
• Support local authorities with 300 additional planning officers across the country
• Review planning applications previously turned down that could help the economy
• Prioritise brownfield and greybelt land for development to meet housing targets when needed
• Reform the planning system to "deliver the infrastructure that our country needs"
• Set out new policy intentions for critical infrastructure in the coming months.”