The government has published a White paper on its proposed changes to Planning Policy and Regulations. It's not an easy read, but here are some key features in the proposals:-

1) Councils will have to assign "Zones" in their local area, known as "Growth" "Renewal" or "Protection". Growth and Renewal zones will automatically have outline Planning permission, so your local Council will not be able to stop building there - only to specify certain details. Growth are likely to be new (for example Green space) areas, whilst renewal would be old areas suitable for rebuilding, or areas where the council feels the density can be increased (infill).

2) Renewal zones will have certain pre-approved development types, known as "Permitted Developments", which will automatically be approved, although they have to fit in with the local Design code (see below)

3) Councils like Wealden would have only 30 months to develop a new plan. However the Council will not be able to set any local policies - Planning policy would be set nationally by central government.

4) S106 (developer contributions to help pay for extra infrastructure) will end, and Community Infrastructure levy (CIL, calculated locally and going to local councils to pay for infrastructure) will change to a nationally set levy on the building of new houses, which is to help the local council pay for needed infrastructure such as roads, schools etc. However this levy will only be payable when the house is occupied, meaning that councils will either have to borrow money, or houses may be built without satisfactory infrastructure in place

5) The government will impose Top Down building targets. These will be based on the current number of houses, the predicted change in local population, and Affordability factor. To explain Affordability factor, the government believes that house prices are reduced by a higher supply of houses. Therefore, in an area like Wealden where house prices are high relative to the rest of the UK, the government will drive MORE building to drive the price of houses down (WASP plan to publish a piece on why this doesn't work)

6) Since the numbers will be centrally handed down, councils will not have a duty to co-operate on housing numbers as they did before. Failure to co-operate was the principle reason that the last Wealden plan was rejected.

7) A Design Code body will be set up. This is to help local councils set up a design code that builders must adhere to in terms of design (for example Sussex tile and timber traditional designs) however a local council cannot implement a Design code without community input (this COULD be a good thing if public consultation is genuine, and not "box-ticking" as we have seen before)

WASP believe that the mechanism for central handing down of numbers is flawed, and that the government premise of building more houses to reduce prices will not work. Vitally, these proposals are only designed to speed up planning - there is no evidence that they will speed up building. So what impact does a PLANNED house have on you? None - it needs to be BUILT

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