Queen’s Speech : Planning System Reforms Announced Today

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The property development sector has welcomed the government’s decision to press ahead with a “root and branch” shake-up of the planning system as part of the forthcoming planning bill announced in today’s Queen’s Speech.

The bill, which is now expected to be brought before Parliament in the autumn, is being designed to enact planning reforms trailed in last summer’s planning white paper, in which prime minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to “level the foundations” of planning and create an entirely new system.

The plans include proposals to scrap Section 106 agreements, push widespread design coding, and force councils to zone swathes of land for “growth”, “protection” or “renewal”.

Land zoned for growth will benefit from automatic outline planning permission, with councils unable to turn down applications that accord with local rules. The Queen confirmed the government’s determination to push ahead with the full package of reforms, despite a backlash from environmental groups and planners, and reservations expressed by some in the development industry, particularly over the plans to introduce a new Infrastructure Levy to replace the Section 106 system.

The paper said the government was considering going even further than originally proposed by scrapping the “renewal” categorisation, making all land either zoned for “growth” or “protection”. That detail is still be to confirmed. This includes modernising the planning system to enable more homes to be built, more help for first-time buyers, and a promise to ‘enhance the rights of those who rent’, a reference to the yet-to-be introduced Renters Reform Bill.

Her Majesty also said that the practice of excessive ground rent increases by freeholders would be banned for new leasehold properties, a promise Boris Johnson had already outlined earlier this year.

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