The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) House of Commons Select Committee has this week published it’s 135 page inquiry report on the ‘Future of the Planning System in England’.

The cross-party select committee included MPs from across the country, providing an opportunity for balanced views on green belt, the levelling up agenda, and the wider issue of housing delivery.

The HCLG launched six consultations in August 2020, including on the new White Paper and consultations on significant changes to the planning system. Given the strong public and planning sector interest, the Select Committee held an inquiry to inform the Government’s development of the future of the planning system, with the main objective to assess the Government’s proposed legislative reforms and approach to facilitating high quality development across the country.

There is a wealth of evidence referenced within the document and the committee have been good at representing the views put forward by all those involved in delivery.

A few of the standout points we took away from the report were around Permitted Development Rights (PDR), Retirement Living, Local Plans, Local Authority Resourcing and Design.

It is clear that the Select Committee has reservations about the approach being taken by Government, and this report provides some sound recommendations that will need careful consideration and action to obtain support for the Planning Bill.  

Suggestions for facilitating housing delivery are welcome but this is not just what planning is about.  It’s about creating great places which are more than the sum of their parts or individual uses. The future of the planning system must reflect this if it is to be successful. 

There was also a lot of commentary around Housing Delivery & the Green Belt with the Select Committee recommending a clearer narrative on why brownfield sites alone are not the solution to housing delivery and for a review of the Green Belt to ensure that sites “continues to serve that purpose, how the public understand it, what should be criteria for inclusion, and what additional protections might be appropriate.”

Above all, it suggests that the proposal to create three zones – growth, renewal and protection – will not create the quicker and more streamlined system that the government is keen to achieve. 

The practicalities of how the White Paper proposals will come into effect and the role of local democracy is highlighted too, with £500 million of funding proposed for local authorities before the Planning Bill comes forward. 

Speaking about the Green Belt review, Will Edmonds, Head of Housing and Land at Montagu Evans said that “Calls for a review of the Green Belt and how we should approach housing delivery is welcomed, as it is time that politics on this issue are put to the side and a rational conversation had about its purpose. There is, however, concern over the recommendations on the housing methodology which needs careful consideration or the plans for speedy local plan formulation simply won’t be deliverable.”

Head of Planning Craig Blatchford added that “This review echoes a number of issues that we and the industry had with last summer's consultation documents.  It provides Government with clear advice on matters that need to be addressed to ensure that the Planning Bill is fit for purpose and helps to shape a better built environment for all.  We look forward to working with our clients to guide them through this changing system and ensure their needs are met.”