Impact of Government’s turmoil on the planning sector

12 July 2022

The sacking of Michael Gove, resignation of the planning minister and the impending departure of the prime minister will no doubt have an impact on the delivery of the long awaited planning reforms.

Last week, Greg Clark has been announced as Secretary of State for levelling up (DLUHC) replacing the sacked Michael Gove, with Marcus Jones being appointed as the housing minister. Some may recall that Greg Clark served as Communities and Local Government Secretary in 2015/2016 and therefore has a degree of familiarity with the requirements.

By way of update, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, published by the DLUHC in May, is currently at committee stage in the House of Commons. It includes a number of reforms to the planning system, including proposals relating to plan-making, developer contributions and enforcement. It is the Government’s intentions that the Bill will address the housing crisis. However, a committee debate of the Bill, scheduled for 7th July, was cancelled after the numerous recent resignations.

So where does this drama at number 10 leave the planning sector and the planned reforms? It is evident that many local planning authorities (LPAs) have delayed plan making, with some even withdrawing their work altogether, until a degree of certainty is provided by Government regarding the reforms. The Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill confirms that the Local Plan is to be a shorter simpler process with the Secretary of State writing National Development Management Policies, the purpose being to reduce the size of plans by removing generic development management policies which are largely the same across England. LPAs are waiting for clarity regarding these reforms.

The recent events at number 10 are likely to cause further delay in the passing of the Bill, thus, in many instances, further delaying local authority plan making. This could have the effect of worsening the housing supply crisis. We are, however, also of the view that those LPAs with plans at an advanced stage of plan making, such as Stroud District Council, are likely to continue.

It remains the case that the Government has, to date, failed to deliver in its objectives to simplify the planning system and furthermore, we remain nowhere near the Government’s objectives of supplying 300,000 new homes each year. The fact that there has been, on average, one new ministerial planning appointment each year since 2012 has compounded the problems faced by the Government in delivering these objectives.

In the absence of clear planning guidance provided at Government level, professional planning advice is essential in understanding the opportunities available. If you have any questions relating to the impact of planning reform upon your prospective sites, please contact: Anne Pawsey MRTPI Principal Planner at Ridge.