Adam Hall

Planning permission changes July 2020 – Adam Hall, MD of Falconer Chester Hall shares his thoughts.

The end of July saw the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announce changes to the current planning system in the UK.  The new rules will come into effect from September 2020.

The proposed changes aim to streamline the current system, drive economic growth, provide high quality, well designed homes within greener communities and provisions to secure a quicker turnaround on decisions for hospitals, schools, shops and offices.

Under the new legislation, land will be categorised into three types; growth, renewal and protection.  The categories will set out broad parameters for what will be allowable, providing a level of certainty for developers and changing the focus of debate with local authorities to look at the design detail of the development quality rather than broader considerations of use and parameters.

At Falconer Chester Hall we welcome the proposed changes, we are well versed in working with zone-based planning parameters.  This approach is used in Malaysia and was adopted on our Kuala Lumpur mixed use development where the specifics of use, quantum, height, density and massing were prescribed at the outset, the planning process was streamlined and efficient with an emphasis on maintaining the design quality of the development.

The proposed changes will not provide the “free-for-all” that was initially expected, eligibility criteria and “prior approval” requirements will still need to be met.  We applaud the proposed changes to the system that will improve cost efficiency and development certainty by reducing the time to gain approval, whilst ensuring high quality outcomes are delivered.  We enjoy working collaboratively with local planning authorities and local communities and welcome changes to streamline the process that will lead to improved efficiencies and put the focus on design quality and local community considerations.

Further reforms to the Use of Class order maintains the  flexibility for commercial property to be repurposed to aid the regeneration of vacant and redundant buildings supporting the high street revival, reducing pressure on greenfield land and allowing brownfield sites to become more accessible.  Our recent experience suggests that minimum space standards for the conversion of offices to residential would be a worthwhile extra layer of legislation for authorities to consider.