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Savills plc

11/19/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/19/2020 08:41

Savills response to the Planning White Paper: Planning for the Future

Savills welcomes the Government's emphasis on building beautiful and sustainable development, and the emphasis on improving the delivery of housing in response to the shortfall in supply across the country. Housing of course is a priority, but similar urgency exists in relation to the delivery of other forms of development to ensure a strong economic recovery and the transfer to a greener / low carbon economy. A challenge with such radical reform is ensuring it is introduced in a way that minimises the risk of consequent delays in decision-making; both on major proposals and on the progress of emerging local plans. In addition, these measures need to be supported by the necessary resources; both in terms of planning professionals deployed at local authority level and the necessary supporting investment in technology.

England is not a blank canvas. It should be recognised that locally-led approaches to planning are best differentiated by functional economic areas, reducing the number of Local Plans proposed. The system needs to adapt to city-regions, rural hinterlands, London, and the 'levelling up' agenda. There could be an opportunity in 2021 to integrate the necessary planning reforms with the proposed Local Government reforms.

Simplifying local plans to identify land under Growth, Renewal and Protected Areas will provide greater clarity, but the classification of each area needs to be clearly defined. Designation of Growth and Renewal Areas is to be welcomed, but sub-definitions of each area may need to be identified to ensure development is located sustainably, designed in accordance with local character and meets the range of local housing and economic needs. There are a range of grades of safeguarding measures which should be applied in Protection Areas and clarity should be provided on what land classifications or designations can be identified as protected. If the Government is to achieve its housing delivery target, flexibility to allow Green Belt review and release in exceptional circumstances is required.

Standard Method 2 should be implemented as soon as practicable, and retained for a period of at least five years to provide the industry and local authorities greater certainty in plan making.

The Planning White Paper is relatively light on reforms to the approach to planning of town centres. It will be important to ensure that wider reforms of permitted development rights and the Use Class Order are integrated with national policy approaches to the proposed renewal areas

We welcome the approach of a digital-first planning system. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the accelerated the uptake of digital platforms for presenting information and use for public engagement. Technology provides the opportunity to further democratise the planning system, so it should be clear in the Regulations that digital is now the norm.

Savills welcomes a reform of the current system of planning obligations and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The Infrastructure Levy is proposed to address the same objectives as CIL and S106 whilst seeking to reflect market conditions.. Overall, the proposals raise some fundamental questions and overarching view that IL has the potential to be as complex and uncertain as the current system.

Savills welcomes the vision to encourage development of beautiful new places. Sustainable development is environmentally, economically and socially beneficial and the presumption in favour of such development should remain the golden thread of planning through changes to the existing system or wholescale reform.