There are two consultations on Planning Reform with closing dates 1st October and 29th October. The Algorithm comes first.

Planning reform

Whilst distracted by the White Paper Owl discovers another consultation on key ideas with earlier closing date. of 1st October. These include changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need – the inexplicable algorithm. Clearly, these ideas will be carried forward to the White Paper reforms and need to be challenged in both consulations.

Alongside the White Paper, the Government has also published [“sneaked in” under cover of the white paper – Owl] a “Changes to the current planning system” consultation which takes forward some of the ideas proposed in the White Paper in the short term, before the new system is implemented. This consultation closes on 1st October. 

From the introduction to “Changes to the current planning system”:

  1. Since 2010 the Government has introduced planning reforms to improve the current system. In 2010 only 17% of local authorities had local plans in place and now 91% of local authorities have plans. Over 2,700 groups have started the neighbourhood planning process since 2012. We’ve delivered over 1.5 million new homes since 2010 including over 241,000 last year alone – that’s the highest level for over 30 years. And planning permissions for new homes have more than doubled since 2010. But this isn’t enough – we want to deliver the housing people need because happier, more rooted communities bring our country together.


  1. Planning for the Future [White Paper – link above] sets out plans to undertake a fundamental reform of the planning system and explains that this would be accompanied by shorter-term measures. This consultation sets out proposals for measures to improve the effectiveness of the current system. The four main proposals are:


  • changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need, which as well as being a proposal to change guidance in the short term has relevance to proposals for land supply reforms set out in Planning for the Future [the algorithm with its inexplicable affordability uplift  all based on idealised economic theory that breaks down where there is limitless demand (eg from second home owners and retirees from wealthier regions). Oh and don’t forget that large developers control the “build-out rate”  though below is the government’s solution: give small builders a free pass on building affordable houses – Owl];


  • securing of First Homes, sold at a discount to market price for first time buyers, including key workers, through developer contributions in the short term until the transition to a new system [see earlier post on awkward details in this policy – Owl];


  • temporarily lifting the small sites threshold below which developers do not need to contribute to affordable housing, to up to 40 or 50 units to support SME builders as the economy recovers from the impact of Covid-19 [so how do we get “affordable” housing? – Owl];


  • extending the current Permission in Principle to major development so landowners and developers now have a fast route to secure the principle of development for housing on sites without having to work up detailed plans first. [Outline plans – haven’t they been doing this for years under the ancient regime in EDDC with disastrous results? Once given permission in principle what leverage can you have over developers when they, for example, come back to reduce the affordables? – Owl]