Some say he’s the most powerful Tory since Margret Thatcher, so what does Prime Minister Boris Johnson have in store for the world of planning and development?
In his general election victory speech on 13th December, the PM promised to deliver ‘superb infrastructure’ and continued, ‘colossal new investments in infrastructure, in science, using our incredible technological advantages to make this country the cleanest greenest on earth with the most far reaching environmental programme’. ‘You the people of this country voted to be carbon neutral in this election by 2050 and we will do it.’
The Conservative victory opens the way for the party to implement its proposals affecting planning and development, which were included in the party’s manifesto. The following summarises what the Tory manifesto has set out in relation to key issues affecting planning and development.
Within the Conservative manifesto, there is a pledge for an “infrastructure revolution”. Interestingly, it also confirms that the party will “amend planning rules so that the infrastructure – roads, schools, GP surgeries – comes before people move into new homes.”
In terms of transport infrastructure, the Tory manifesto describes High Speed Two (HS2) as “a great ambition”, but references the £81 billion cost, adding: “We will consider the findings of the Oakervee review into costs and timings and work with leaders of the Midlands and the North to decide the optimal outcome.” In addition, the Tories promise to “restore many of the Beeching lines, reconnecting smaller towns such as Fleetwood and Willenhall that have suffered permanent disadvantage since they were removed from the rail network in the 1960s“.
The Tories have made pledges that the party will continue to “progress towards our target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s”, in areas that really need them.
In addition, the manifesto repeats a commitment to bring forward a social housing white paper. “This will include measures to provide greater redress, better regulation and improve the quality of social housing,” the manifesto said.
Councils would be given powers to use developer contributions to discount new homes for “local people” by a third promises the Conservative manifesto. The party has confirmed “We will offer more homes to local families, enabling councils to use developers’ contributions via the planning process to discount homes in perpetuity by a third for local people who cannot otherwise afford to buy in their area. Councils could use this to prioritise key workers in their area, like police, nurses and teachers.”
The Tory manifesto pledges to “protect and enhance the green belt.” It adds: “We will improve poor quality land, increase biodiversity and make our beautiful countryside more accessible for local community use.” It will continue to prioritise brownfield development.
Permitted development and design quality
Whilst the Conservative manifesto did not make reference to PD rights it did include promises to leave it to the community to decide on its own design standards for new development, ‘allowing residents a greater say on the style and design of development in their area, with local councils encouraged to build more beautiful architecture”.
New national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be created according to their manifesto, “as well as making our most loved landscapes greener, happier, healthier and open to all“. Furthermore, on the issue of energy, there would also be “support” for the creation of low energy homes, ‘while all new streets would be expected to be lined with trees’ the manifesto said.
The manifesto has reconfirmed the party’s commitment to devolution saying ‘our ambition is for full devolution across England, building on the successful devolution of power to city region mayors, Police and Crime Commissioners and others, so that every part of our country has the power to shape its won destiny.’ We can expect an English Devolution White Paper setting out such plans next year.
Ridge Partner Paul Fong, who heads the Planning team confirmed;
‘Now there is certainty and a clear path on where we are going with regard to Brexit, it appears there’s more confidence in the economy and consequently it is likely that more development projects will be commenced and reinstated. It is apparent that Boris Johnson is keen on large infrastructure projects that will help promote additional growth within the county. This will help assist larger development projects that in turn should boost the supply of housing in addition to supporting the local economy. We will also see the impact of the government’s commitment to devolution which could alter the way planning decision are made. We will see strategic planning playing a more significant role in the decision making process.’