The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has warned Government plans to designate local areas as one of three types of development zone (growth, renewal and protected) lack the necessary detail – and says that it is unpersuaded that the proposals will produce a cheaper, quicker and more democratic planning system.

In its comprehensive report on the future of the planning system, published today, the Committee calls on the Government to revisit its proposals. The Committee also asks for further information on how the Government’s target to build 300,000 homes a year will be achieved – and the tenure and location of these homes.  The Committee further calls for local authorities have more powers to act where developers are too slow in completing sites they have planning permission for – recommending that local authorities are able to levy full council tax charges on incomplete properties if sufficient progress has not been made within 36 months.

Read the report at: The Future of the Planning System in England

Publishing the report, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee Clive Betts MP said:

“The Government’s aim of developing a planning system that enables buildings to be built more quickly and with greater input from local communities is welcome, but it is far from clear how the current proposals will achieve this. The Government’s three areas proposal needs to be reconsidered.

“We also need much more information about the Government’s target to build 300,000 homes every year – as well as the changes to the housing formula announced last December. It’s all very well having numbers on paper – but we need to know how we get to them in reality. Local authorities also need better options for pushing developers to actually build what they have been given permission for. We have called on the Government to allow local authorities to levy Council Tax on homes that haven’t been built years after they have been approved.”

“Of course, planning also has wider impacts beyond housing. There were many issues that weren’t addressed in the Government’s proposals – including how the changes will affect the levelling-up agenda, economic recovery from Covid-19, and the environment. We ask for further information, and consultation, on all of these areas.

“Public engagement is critical in planning – and our report stresses the need for the Government to really get to grips with how it can best involve local people in the planning process. This is essential if any changes to the planning system are to be a success. We also highlight the need the need for the public to still be able to comment on individual planning proposals – in addition to engaging with Local Plans.”

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