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Councillors have been told new Government planning proposals could create an “overly simplified approach”.

A new zoning approach is being put forward in a white paper that aims to change the way planning permission is granted across the country.

It would mean the creation of three definitions for land:

  • Growth areas where substantial development could take place, with outline planning permission automatically granted in these areas.
  • Renewal areas where development is suitable for the smaller developments such as “infill of residential areas” and “small sites within the or on the edge of villages”.
  • Protected areas such as green belt, wildlife sites or areas of outstanding natural beauty.

But a report to a meeting of an overview and scrutiny committee meeting this evening (7th September) says the approach may pose problems in Lichfield and Burntwood.

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“The move to a zoned system with the three designations could lead to an overly simplified approach which does not take account of the diverse nature of areas of the district.

“The white paper also proposes to limit the use of localised development management policies, with the primary source of such policies becoming the National Planning Policy Framework.

“While such an approach may be beneficial to the development industry who would be effectively dealing with the same nationally set policies across the country, it doesn’t allow for locally distinctive development management policies to be drawn up and adopted by the council.

“These two proposals together appear overly simplistic and remove the ability for the authority to draw up nuanced and detailed locally specific allocations and policies.”

Planning for the future report

“Local characteristics and constraints”

The white paper is also seeking to change the way housing need is calculated.

The report added that the new method would be binding for councils.

“There is limited detail as to how housing need would be calculated using the new method, so it is not possible to determine what impact this would have for the district in terms of its housing need.

“However, by setting this approach nationally and making it binding there is concern that this may lead to an approach which does not allow for the reflection of local characteristics and constraints.

“Alongside this approach the abolition of the five year supply test and reliance on the housing delivery test is worthy of consideration.

“The housing delivery test tests an authority’s housing delivery in terms of annual completions rather than the number of homes it has permitted.

“Given the council is not responsible for the actual delivery of homes there is the potential that should the development community not implement consented schemes in a timely fashion that the local planning authority is at risk of being punished.”

Planning for the future report

The meeting will be streamed on Lichfield District Council’s YouTube channel from 6pm this evening.

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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2 Comments

  1. It isn’t just the over simplification that is a significant problem.

    We have a housing crisis in this country and none of the Government’s policies at present or proposals like this do anything to address this issue. Instead of listening to the industry, they have consistently adopted a “build build build” approach which might make very healthy profits for volume housebuilders but which do nothing to create a viable and sustainable industry that can withstand future challenges.

    These latest proposals are a shsmeful return to the build them quick and cheap days. We need new housing, both in the private and public sector, to be more energy efficient, more sustainable, more user-friendly and more ling-term than we have now. We also need to concentrate more on the infrastructure to serve existing communities and new developments.

    Nothing the government is doing effectively ticks any of these boxes.

    There is also the issue of safety and pist-Grenfell regulations. The government needs to address the existing and extensive stock of unsafe residential developments across the country as a priority, not tinker with the planning system. Why is it acceptable to have 24 hour fire wardens in residential blocks in an attempt to keep residents safe rather than complete essential and life saving refurbishments?

    Instead of pumping billions into build huild build, the government should be diverting that funding into addressing the real crisis affecting our housing.

  2. I agree completely with The Scribbler’s comments and made my complete opposition to these proposed changes to the planning system clear at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee this evening. I will be following this up, to make sure that the response to the consultation from Lichfield District Council is robustly critical of the government’s proposals, which are nothing less than a developers’ charter!

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