Following December’s election, the Queen’s Speech set out that the Government is committed to building at least a million more homes over this Parliament, and will publish an ambitious Planning White Paper in an effort to make the planning process clearer, more accessible, and more certain.
It is not known at the moment precisely what is being planned by the Government. Certainly during his time as Mayor of London, the Prime Minister was very pro-development and, through the use of his planning powers, allowed schemes against the wishes of local authorities.
There are a number of issues which need tackling. There are ongoing arguments with regard to significant infrastructure projects, such as the third runway at Heathrow and HS2 – it is not clear whether the Prime Minister himself is in favour of either of these.
At the local level, the draft London Plan has now been passed to the Secretary of State. The Mayor has accepted a number of recommendations made by the panel of Inspectors, but has not accepted all comments including, most significantly, those regarding development within the Green Belt. Though the Secretary of State is entitled to direct that further changes be made, it remains to be seen whether he will do so, effectively forcing the Mayor to accept further amendments.
There is also ongoing controversy with regard to permitted development rights, especially as the system allows very small units to be occupied with no amenity space or even windows. Whilst it may be the Prime Minister’s instinct to relax regulations to allow for more development, there are increasing calls for at least some form of restriction on permitted development.
Article written by James Kon