Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has announced an easing of planning restrictions in new ‘investment zones’ as part of the government’s mini budget which outlines growth strategy and promises tax cuts. In the Growth Plan 2022, the government sets out the goal of investment zones to boost investment employment and help people move up the property ladder. Zones will be one or more specific sites within a Combined Mayors Authority (MCA) and Upper Level Local Authority (UTLA) where a variety of tax, regulatory innovations and planning simplifications will apply ( reducing the need for consent). The areas hosting the zones should benefit from:
- A reduction in taxes, as businesses located in designated sites will receive benefits such as 100% relief from business rates on newly occupied and expanded premises, and full stamp duty relief on purchased land for commercial and residential development.
- Accelerated development as there will be designated development sites to free up more land for residential and commercial development and to support accelerated development.
- Broader support for local growth, as MCA Lodging Investment Zones will receive a single local growth settlement during the next spending review period.
The government is currently in talks with 38 local authorities to establish the investment zones, and a fact sheet released on 23rd in September said the government would present “further details on the liberalized planning offer for the investment zones in due course”.
In addition to investment zones, the mini budget also saw other planning announcements, including:
- “Speed up housing delivery by building homes where people want to live and work” – Although this is a popular political slogan, it sits poorly with announced policy changes. In the press, intentions were announced to abolish centrally set housing targets and the obligation to have a supply of land for housing over 5 years. In our view, the feasible options available are centrally set housing targets or a return to bygone days of locally set targets, but with the return of regional planning to meet housing needs and numbers. In our opinion, a halfway house of a partial return to days gone by, but without regional strategies in place, is more likely to reduce planning and delivery permits and increase the number of local plans deemed unsound. for not meeting local housing requirements. need. The proposals appear to lack the credibility to achieve the stated goal of accelerating housing delivery.
- Plans to accelerate new road, rail and energy infrastructure with new legislation to reduce barriers and restrictions, which speeds up the construction of new roads and accelerates the development of energy infrastructure, including by agreeing more through the Motorways Act 1980.
- The introduction of a new Planning and Infrastructure Bill to accelerate major priority infrastructure projects in England (including DCOs), intended to:
- Minimize the burden of environmental assessments.
- Make consultation requirements more proportionate.
- Reform the regulation of habitats and species.
- Activate changes to a development consent order once submitted.
Other Planning Announcements
Ahead of the release of the 2022 Growth Plan, Premier Liz Truss and new Secretary of State for Leveling, Housing and Communities Simon Clarke commented on the planning reform proposals and, as a result, d ‘Other plans are expected under the new management.
The Retained EU Legislation (Revocation and Reform) Bill has been introduced in Parliament by the Government, which provides for a sunset clause on the majority of Retained EU Legislation so that it expires on 31 December 2023. Once enacted, all Retained EU Legislation contained in National Laws Secondary Legislation and Direct Retained EU Legislation will expire on that date, unless otherwise specified.
According to press reports, the government wants to roll back the environmental legislation retained by the EU. Some announcements have been made as noted above on EAs and Habitats. Looking ahead to her leadership, the Prime Minister has also announced as another example that she wants to scrap rules that say developers can only get planning permission if their projects have no nutrient pollution impacts on protected watercourses, due to the rules “slowing down the construction of housing”. .
A substantial weakening of EU-related environmental protections would appear to be a failure for the European Union unless the government comes to the conclusion that a good final Brexit deal is no longer possible, opening the way for the government to proceed with weakening the protection of the environment.
The Prime Minister has also said she expects her new housing secretary, Simon Clarke, to review the powers of the Planning Inspectorate – saying it is ‘too easy for the local council to be canceled”. In our opinion, the Planning Inspectorate has been an example of good practice, the Government’s criticisms are unfounded and the proposed reform risks upsetting the balance of the planning system.
The Prime Minister also commented on his approach to housing construction, saying ‘we need to build a million homes on London’s green belt near stations and around other growth towns, particularly to enable people under 40 years of being able to own their own home. We should allow villages to grow by four or five houses a year without having to go through the planning system, so that people can afford to live locally. However, with approximately 2 years until the next general election, it is doubtful that these types of policies are likely to occur in this Parliament, as a discernible difference on the ground is unlikely before the next general election and it is likely that she is unpopular. with Tory MPs in those areas, who have proven to have a strong influence lately.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Robert Bruce.
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