The past few months have seen much discussion in the industry about the government’s new levelling up housing and communities proposals. On 24th July 2023, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government revealed more details of these plans and the implications they could have on both existing homeowners as well as those looking to enter into the property market. In this blog post, we will be providing an overview of what was announced so that you can understand how it might affect you.
  • National Planning Policy Framework update to be published a little bit later this year (Gove has separately said September at the earliest)
  • The speech set out a long-term housing plan with 10 principles:
    1. The regeneration and renaissance of the hearts of 20 of our most important towns and cities.
    2. Supercharging Europe’s science capital.
    3. Building beautiful – and making architecture great again.
    4. Building great public services into the heart of every community.
    5. Communities taking back control of their future.
    6. Greener homes, greener landscapes and green belt protection.
    7. A new deal for tenants and landlords.
    8. Ensuring that every home is safe, decent and warm.
    9. Liberating leaseholders.
    10. And extending ownership to a new generation.
  • Continued commitment to 300,000 homes target by the middle of this decade.
  • Consulting on new and expanded Permitted Development Rights to maximise the potential of existing buildings for new homes – Permitted development rights – GOV.UK (
  • £24 million of additional investment in planning services.
  • Set up a new “super-squad” team of planners and other experts charged with working across the planning system to unblock major housing developments. This team will first be placed in Cambridge but will also look across the country’s eight investment zones.
  • Office for Place launched to lead a design revolution and ensure local people have a say in how housing is designed.
  • Community Land Trusts will be scaled up and more resources for custom and self-build homes.
  • Street votes enabling gentle densification re-emphasised.
  • £1 billion will be launched to make brownfield land fit for development in our cities and towns.
  • £250 million to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and to the West Midlands
  • Docklands 2.0 – an eastward extension along the Thames – tens of thousands of new homes.
  • Cambridge plans for housing, public services and green spaces with a major new quarter for the city by 2040.
  • Barrow in Cumbria to be the site of significant new investment over the next four decades, extending beyond its current boundaries with thousands of new homes and space for new businesses.

The overall message was support for brownfield development/densification of major cities and avoiding green belt erosion and suburban sprawl.

The speech was disappointing and will only add to the current hiatus in plan making.  Whilst urban regeneration is supported, it will not deliver the scale of housing needed.

The speech confirmed the target for 300,000 homes a year but there continues to be too much uncertainty and a lack of positive national policy to deliver this.

Also announced was a consultation on the reform of local plans

Reforms to Plan Making consultation until 18th October:

  • A requirement to start updating plans within 5 years of adoption.
  • In the previous consultation – the government proposed the removal of the requirement for a 5yr Housing Land Supply for those Local Authorities with an up to date plan.
  • Making the role and content of plans clearer
    • Single Local Plan
    • Minerals and waste plans could site separately or could be included in the single LP (depends on who is responsible for preparing for preparing minerals and waste)
    • Policies to focus on local matters only (as national Development Management policies will cover general policy matters)
  • Speeding up the process
    • Timeframe of 30 months to prepare and adopt a LP (by following a standard process)
    • Local Authorities to announce when the formal plan preparation starts, and they will be expected to do the following:
      • define the scope of the plan and prepare a programme for how they are going to develop the local plan (through the Project Initiation Document) including when they will consult with the public.
      • through close working with local communities and stakeholders, prepare a vision for how the area could change and develop, and how progress towards meeting this vision will be delivered and monitored, giving communities a genuine opportunity to shape, from the earliest stages, how their area meets its needs and evolves over time.
      • prepare the right amount of evidence to test and underpin the proposals in the plan, so that there is transparency and confidence in the plan.
      • invite early participation and hold different stages of consultation with local communities, stakeholders and statutory bodies along the process, to make sure the plan takes account of a wide range of views.
      • ensure that the plan is maximising opportunities to protect the environment and human health, and deliver on the government’s environmental targets and commitments, informed by relevant environmental policy including strategies for water, flood risk management, air quality and landscapes, and Local Nature Recovery Strategies, as well as the processes of Strategic Environmental Assessment, and its eventual replacement Environmental Outcomes Reports
      • have the plan assessed by a Planning Inspector at public examination, which should take no longer than 6 months (plus an additional three months if further consultation is needed)”
    • 3 mandatory Gateway assessments to be introduced – at the beginning, middle and end of preparing the plan (the final assessment just before the examination)
    • Requirement to maintain a timetable for preparing a LP – and keep it up to date every 6 months.
    • Ensuring local communities are engaged – 2 periods of consultation with the 30 months timescale.  Also, a new requirement to notify and invite early participation on matters that might help and shape the direction of the plan. the amount of engagement that takes place during plan making to increase -with a focus on early participation.
  • Plan making authorities the power to legally require that “prescribed public bodies” provide assistance to develop or review the local plan (which organisations that are prescribed bodies will be set out in the Regulations)
  • Making the most of digital technology
    • Eg., interactive maps
    • Standardise planning and environmental data.
    • Plans will be shorter, more visual and map based.
  • Other proposals
    • Supplementary Plans – so LPAs can react quickly to changes in their areas (these plans are to be given the same weight as LPs, and minerals and waste LPs, will also be subject to consultation and examination.  Supplementary plans can be used to set out authority-wide design policies.
    • Pilot community Land Auctions as a way of identifying land for development in a local plan.
  • Introduction of Infrastructure Delivery Strategies in Part 4 of the Bill is intended to strengthen infrastructure delivery.
  • Timescale – the government intend to have in place the regulation, policy and guidance by autumn 2024 to enable the first new style plans to be prepared.
  • Proposed changes to LP examinations:
    • Examinations to be no longer than 6 months – consultation on modifications this will add another 3 months to the timetable (although this is not intended to be set out in the Regulation)
    • Most changes to be delivered through the Inspectorate’s Procedural Guidance.
    • Using panels of 2or more Inspectors
    • MIQs only to be responded to by the LPA (so we would not be able to submit Hearing Statements this puts more emphasis on reps at Reg 19 as the reps will shape the MIQs, but this relies on the Inspectors picking up those points!)
    • MIQs only to focus on soundness issues.
    • Shorten the minimum notification for hearings to 3 weeks
    • Streamline the main modifications so only most significant amendments are consulted on.
    • Consultation on mods reduced to 3 weeks.
    • Set out in Regs that examinations can pause but not longer than 6 months, it will be for the Inspector to decide the length of the pause within this timeframe.
  • Monitoring – proposed a light touch return to include progress against the plan making activities proposed in the timetable and report on some nationally prescribed metrics. Secondly a more detailed return to inform updates of the plan so that by 4 years after adoption of the LP, planning authorities should prepare a fuller analysis of how planning policies and designations are being implemented.
  • Transition – the government confirm that for all those LPAs preparing plans under the current system the date of 30th June 2025 will be when all plans need to be submitted for examination and these plans will need to be adopted by 31st December 2026 (These dates are dependent on Royal Assent of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and parliamentary approval of the Regulations). The government intend to have in place the regulations, policy and guidance by autumn 2024 to enable the first of the new style local plans to be prepared. As part of this consultation views are sought on a number of options for a more phased roll out of the new system.

Whilst it is acknowledged that some changes are needed to the way in which Local Plans are prepared, the issue of increasing engagement and at the same time speeding up to the process should not be underestimated and is a real challenge.  Some of these proposed changes that are consulted upon are also going to be included in a forthcoming consultation on the revised NPPF, it seems very optimistic that such changes could be implemented by autumn 2024. The continued level of uncertainty in recent years has led to many local plans not coming forward, and reductions in housing delivery.

For further information contact:  Clare Clarke, and Sarah Hamilton-Foyn,