The Government’s white paper - ‘Planning for the Future’ - sets out ambitious proposals for a complete overhaul of the planning system in England says commercial property agent Prop-Search, that could impact on the current system of promotion and development of strategic sites.
It is proposed that both Section 106 Agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) are abolished and replaced with a universal, value-based, flat rate charge to be called the Infrastructure Levy.
It is proposed that the new Infrastructure Levy will meet all infrastructure needs associated with the development and unlike Section 106 contributions, will not be open to negotiation on the grounds of viability. Consultation is also taking place on whether the Infrastructure Levy should form the basis for a mechanism to capture part of the land value uplift that planning permission for development creates.
Simon Toseland, a Director of Prop-Search, said: “Whilst the abolition of Section 106 Agreements may be welcomed by some - not least due to the perception that the negotiation of agreements is often the cause for delay in the land promotion process - careful thought does need to be given to the proposed alternatives.”
“Any significant land value capture will have a knock-on effect on prices paid to landowners and as a result, impact the motivation for both landowners and promotors to play a part in the provision of land for development. The concept of land value capture is not new, but something that previous government administrations have explored and been pushed back on many times.”
The new levy proposals also suggest that the responsibility for infrastructure could fall on District Councils, which is likely to displease landowners, developers, County Councils and District Councils alike.
The second significant change proposed is a complete overhaul of the local plan process. The apparent motivation behind this is two-fold. First, to increase the speed at which local plans are adopted, with an ambitious target that all authorities will have a plan in place within 30 months of the process being initiated and second, to simplify the allocation of land by introducing three categories of allocation - Growth Areas, Renewal Areas and Protected Areas.
It is proposed that where land is identified as a Growth Area - akin to a formal allocation within the existing plan process - this will have the effect of automatically securing outline planning consent in respect of that land.
It is the Government’s intention that any reforms to the planning system that survive the consultation, which closes 29 October 2020, and legislative processes are implemented in time for new local plans to be in place by the end of the current Parliament in 2024.