Martin Goodall’s Planning Law Blog

The following is the written text of a speech delivered soon after the election by the Rt Hon James Hacker M.P., the newly appointed Secretary of State for Administrative Affairs. Here tonite I will set out for you, as well as for wider distribution later, my proposals for blowing away the cobwebs of the planning system.

Some of these proposals will demand legislation, but many of them are simply just plan changes, which may be applied immediately. The reasoning behind this is very simple – with no legislative restriction imposed by parliament, the citizen would be flawlessly entitled to do with his property as he pleased. He shouldn’t be deprived of his property privileges without justification therefore, therefore planning permission should be granted unless to take action would cause demonstrable injury to interests of recognized importance.

That was a rule which was recognised for many years, and it is not very back since federal government plan guidance said specifically that long. This brings me to the role of the Development Plan in the look process. Clearly, planning decisions cannot be taken in vacuum pressure and there should be some policy framework, both at nationwide with local level, to give a basis on which planning decisions can be taken.

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However, today’s system has become far too prescriptive and cumbersome. The replacement of County Structure Plans and Local Plans (or Unitary Development Plans) by Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Frameworks, from making things better far, has made the whole Development Plan system a lot more cumbersome and time-consuming. So much effort is wasted in the actual process and in assessing its ‘soundness’ that the actual objective of experiencing a Development Plan in any way appears to have been entirely forgotten.

Away with all this nonsense, I say! We shall replace it with a straightforward system, composed of concise ministerial plan statements at the regional and national level. There will then be new County Development Plans, which must be compliant with that ministerial policy (supplemented by Local Development Statements where necessary – in more densely developed urban areas). The brand-new County Development Plans will be made by County Planning Authorities and approved by Ministers. We propose to devise an easier more streamlined process for the formulation and ministerial approval of these plans. My department shall in future take a much closer and more proactive fascination with Development Plans.

I also propose to sweep away all supplemental planning assistance and similar material made by local planning specialists. I wish to turn now to some of the primary plan changes I propose to make the look system fairer and less burdensome. First, I intend to widen significantly the range of Permitted Development under the General Permitted Development Order, especially for householder developments.

The previous government has already got one go at householder development (under Part hands down the Second Schedule to the GPDO) and quite frankly they made a total mess from it. From being more liberal Much, the new provisions have simply changed one set of restrictive and ambiguous rules with another.

The power of local planning regulators to remove permitted development rights through conditions attached to planning permissions will also be ended. I also propose to revisit the Use Classes Order to produce rather broader classes, specifically for commercial uses around centers. For instance, I propose to amalgamate the Category ‘A’ Use Classes within a class, so that there would no more be any restriction in changes useful to and from retail, office, and catering uses in town centers. We really must leave it up to the marketplace to decide what uses will be commercially viable specifically locations.

I do not accept that we have to intervene in a misguided work to protect major retail frontages from other town center uses. Nor if the planning system be utilized to restrict or control the development of food and drink or leisure uses around centers. As far as the sale of alcohol can be involved, and the issues associated with it sometimes, that is a matter for licensing regulators; it isn’t the business of the look system.

I also plan to make a number of important changes to ministerial policy advice. These include subjects such as Housing, Green development, and Belts in the countryside. However, this evening will not let me deal with these topics in any fine detail in the time available. It has taken far too miss government to understand that people are facing a significant housing crisis in this country and, having reluctantly recognized the problem, to understand the nettle and seek practical answers to it. It would be wrong to blame the look system as the sole or even the main reason behind this crisis, but it has been one factor in exacerbating the shortage of available casing definitely.