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This paper sets out the key planning reform proposals and those changes in the process of being made in respect of England. For information about changes in the other UK countries see the joint Library briefing paper Comparison of the planning systems in the four UK countries: 2016 update.

Recent legislative changes

The previous Conservative Government of the 2015-2017 Parliament made a number of changes to the planning system in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, and the Neighbourhood Planning Act 2017, both with the aim of speeding up the delivery of new homes.

Changes to the planning regime for onshore wind turbines were also made in the Energy Act 2016, aimed at giving local communities a greater say about these developments.

The Government also made a number of Budget announcements and published a number of consultations on planning reform.

Housing white paper reform

The former Government published a the Housing white paper, Fixing our broken housing market,  in February 2017. The Government consulted on its proposals in the white paper, but had not issued a response before the 2017 general election. Responding to it and making changes will therefore be task for the new Government.

Many of the planning related proposals in the white paper would be done by making changes to the NPPF, very few would require legislation. Some of the headline proposals from the white paper include:

  • giving local authorities the opportunity to have their housing land supply agreed on an annual basis and fixed for a one year period;
  • further consultation on introducing a standardised approach for local authorities in assessing housing requirements;
  • changing the NPPF to introduce a housing delivery test which will highlight whether the number of homes being built is on target;
  • increasing nationally set planning fees; and
  • further consultation on introducing a fee for making a planning appeal.

Consultation responses still outstanding

Before the general election a new consultation on planning and affordable housing for build to rent was published. Tthe Government also published the report submitted by the Community Infrastructure Review Group: a response to this report had been promised by the previous Government at the time of the Autumn Budget 2017.

Conservative Party Manifesto pledges on planning reform

The Conservative Party 2017 general election manifesto contained pledges to support shale gas extraction and move major shale gas applications into the national planning regime. It also committed to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020, with half a million more by the end of 2022. Existing protections for green belt and areas of outstanding natural beauty would be maintained. A geospatial data body would be established within government, which would set standards to digitise the planning process. Following the election the Government has not yet confirmed whether it will take these proposals forward. 

Next steps

The Government has indicated that a consultation on proposals for a standardised approach to assessing housing requirements would be published later in July 2017 and that changes to planning policy in the NPPF might be made towards the end of the year.

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