CODA Comment - "Planning for the Future" White Paper

Rob Crolla

CODA Comment

Planning for the Future – Planning White Paper

Since the publication of the White Paper on 6 August there has been an avalanche of comment and commentary from across the development industry spectrum – so here’s CODA Planning’s’ initial take on proceedings.

Just to be clear the content of the paper is not law [yet] – there is still a long way to go before all or any of this reaches the statute books.

The key theme is the return to what we would call proper plan-making – a simple, easy to produce and interpret plan – which is a plan – to say what can go where. This is where we were 25 years ago – an approach that has been diluted by the tinkering’s of successive governments to deliver the current complicated and over-prescriptive system.

So, a new easier to interpret development plan – which will be based on housing numbers using a national methodology – no more arguing at local plan examinations about objectively assessed need or even 5-year housing land supply. Local authorities will be given a number and they will have to plan to meet it exactly – it will be binding. These numbers will be calculated centrally with “policy on” – i.e. constraints such as environmental designations and Green Belt will be taken into consideration.

How will they meet it? Well it will be through the identification of “growth” or “renewal” areas. Once the plan is adopted the uses and scales of development fund to be acceptable in those areas will

  1. benefit from outline consent in “growth” zones and
  2. benefit from a strengthened presumption in favour of sustainable development in “renewal” zones.

Applications for development will then be governed by an adopted “pattern” book setting out issues such as scale, massing, materials etc which could be adopted and relate to individual streets within an area.

So, what are the implications:

  • it is suggested that the current swathe of planning legislation could be scrapped to be replaced by more streamlined law structure – in effect starting again;
  • the system in terms of scales of development will be effectively centralised – back to the days of national and regional planning. No more “duty to co-operate”;
  • design will be directed and heavily influenced locally – isn’t this potentially where the system will start clogging up again? Not necessarily, as it will be the pattern book which sets the tone; once adopted then the context is known and should not be revisited for each planning application;
  • CIL and S106 to be scrapped to be replaced by a development tax payable on occupation as a percentage of development value – no more arguing about s106 contributions as levels would be set nationally and this would deliver more consents more quickly;
  • When the legislation comes in local planning authorities would have 30 months to prepare and adopt – council planning departments are going to need some serious funding to deliver on this. One way that is being considered is fees being paid by developers / landowners for involvement in the plan production process – controversial!
  • Finally, it is suggested that the whole revised process is designed to re-focus the planning system on delivery but the delivery of quality – i.e. what are we going to build and where are we going to build it. Perhaps a bit of a dichotomy there?

Interesting times ahead! Consultation to start imminently.

If you require any assistance in relation to the planning process generally or any specific project by all means contact us at

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Rob Crolla

Rob is Director of CODA Planning. He has a wealth of experience across a wide variety of land use sectors, and has worked in private and public sector roles, and on client-side and in consultancy roles over a 25 year planning career. Connect with Rob on LinkedIn >>

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