The next five years in planning

The next five years in planning
With the political dust settling from the general election, Richard Harwood OBE QC of 39 Essex Chambers considers what the election result could mean for the planning sector.
What does the election result mean for planning?

The election of a majority Conservative government will encourage the development industry which has sought a pro-business approach and political stability. That will make planning increasingly busy.

The appointment of Greg Clark as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government signals a continuation of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s twin promotion of the growth agenda and localism. He was Eric Pickles’ Minister for Planning for several years and signed the foreword to the National Planning Policy Framework, so planning reforms can be expected to carry on.

From the manifesto pledges, what is on the horizon for planning?

House building starts are up from 124,000 in 2009–2010 to 160,000 in 2013–2014. That will need to be pushed further, by a combination of using the tools to implement the policy and simplifying the planning system to encourage schemes to be brought forward. The approach of brownfield first, release of surplus public sector land, garden cities where local communities want them, and protecting the Green Belt gives a strong steer where that development can take place. Whether sufficient tools are there has to be considered, and that points to further reform of planning, compulsory purchase and compensation.

Neighbourhood planning is firmly established as part of the planning system.

Energy development will be strongly promoted, except for onshore wind which will lose any new subsidises.

Is there any immediate action practitioners should take in light of the result?

Take neighbourhood planning seriously, re-read the foreword to the National Planning Policy Framework and get out of onshore wind.

Any further comments you wish to add?

Eric Pickles managed to take a grip of the planning system and the last two years have seen distinctly different approaches being carried into practice. That has been down to Eric Pickles and his team and we can expect that strong political control to remain and perhaps intensify under an all-Conservative administration.


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