The Government has announced new changes proposed to shake up planning laws and cut red tape – but what does it mean for those looking to build their own home?
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Proposed changes to planning laws in the UK have today been announced by Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government.
The shake-up of regulations includes measures to look at re-classification of land, streamline planning procedures and fast-track builds which are deemed ‘beautiful’.
The Grand Designs magazine team has delved into these proposed plans to find out what impact they may have for the custom and self-build community.
In an effort to simplify the role of Local Plans, changes have been proposed to how land is categorised. The revised system would incorporate three distinct categories – Growth areas, which are those suitable for substantial development; Renewals areas, suitable for some development; and Protected areas, where development is restricted. For certain projects allocated in Local Plans, the Government estimates that this strategy may halve the time required for planning permission.
The proposal also highlights that local planning authorities should create sub-areas within Growth areas that are to be allocated specifically for custom- and self-build homes. The plans also suggest that local authorities should find enough land to meet the demand of their self-build registers, however, it is unclear whether these would be enforced or up to individual authorities.
Setting new rules
The Government has a new vision for Local Plans, which sees them as offering clear rules for site- and area-specific developments over general policies. It believes this will remove some of the bureaucracy and repetition of Local Plans, and that this should mean that these documents are two-thirds shorter than they currently stand. This would be complemented by locally-produced ‘design codes’ – along with a commitment to work with local communities at the Plan-making stage, not just during the planning permission process.
As part of proposed changes, the Government is also seeking to streamline both the planning application and public consultation processes – for the latter making it clearer what is being built where. Visualisations will all be map-based, and feedback on plans is something that should be able to be done by the public by phone and social media.
These steps will include local authorities embracing new technology and working with developers on new platforms for submitting planning applications and monitoring your case digitally.
While the proposals talk at length about energy efficiency and ensuring net-zero carbon homes are part of the future of homebuilding in the UK, it doesn’t set out any policy changes in this arena yet.
However, continuing the work of the Building Better, Building Beautiful report which was published earlier in the year, these proposals set out a fast-track route for those houses and development which are deemed ‘beautiful’. With previous criticism of this policy asking for clarity on how to quantify whether something is beautiful or not, these proposals outline a focus on ‘placemaking’, ’the creation of beautiful places’ and developments that are a ‘net-gain’ to an area, not just ‘no net harm’.
While these proposals set out a framework for ensuring that all builds pay their way in terms of the community infrastructure levy – fees to help the local area cope with the demands of a new development – it says that self-builders and custom home builders are to remain immune from these charges.
Reactions from the industry
Reactions to these proposals from professional bodies have been mixed. While the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has been critical of these proffered ideas, the National Custom and Selfbuild Association (NaCSBA), praised the proposal.
Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, NaCSBA CEO, said: “For too long our planning system and our housing market has been stuck in a rut. Consumer choice is the key to more and better homes that more people aspire to live in and that communities are happier to see built.
“There is huge potential to be unlocked. With choice comes responsibility and the local design codes will help ensure that these cherished new homes are fitting additions to their surroundings. The message to the public is clear, the choice that you expect with every other product is now coming to the housing market – prepare to be excited and inspired.”
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