HMG Consultation – “Changes to the current Planning System”
In August 2020, the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government launched a new consultation affecting the planning system in England entitled “Changes to the current Planning System”.
The consultation set out 4 main proposals for measures intended by HMG to improve the effectiveness of the current planning system:-
- changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need
- securing of First Homes through developer contributions in the short term until the transition to a new system
- supporting small and medium-sized builders by temporarily lifting the small sites threshold below which developers do not need to contribute to affordable housing
- extending the current Permission in Principle to major development
The Society did not provide detailed answers to all questions, but overall believe that the proposals are unhelpful, fail to address the key shortage of social housing, which is the most pressing need in Epsom and many other Boroughs, and do nothing to mitigate the threat to our Green Belt and quality of built environment.
Many proposals represented changes which could have a major impact on the nature and quantity of housing in Epsom, a reduction of green features and open space in our street scene, and probably a significant loss of Green Belt land to housing.
Both the Society and Epsom & Ewell Borough Council responded to the consultation, often with similar opinions but prepared independently.
The Society also rejected the proposition that the proposed change in the standard method of calculation would have any positive effect on the quantity of homes built in Epsom, with targets under both old and new being well beyond any plausible expectation of new homes being built in Epsom. Both old and new methods suggest targets of more than twice as many houses per annum as was built in any year in the last decade. In any rational world this is not the way to plan!
Other changes included further Permitted Development Rights, creating even more circumstances where possibly inappropriate changes to existing properties can be made without requiring planning permission.