Planning for 2016

Arnie Craven

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2016 is already upon us…
It feels like we’ve barely finished opening our presents and eating our Christmas dinners, but the Local Dialogue tree is gone, our tinsel is back in the cupboard and our minds have turned to the coming year.

And what a tough act this year has to follow – with 2015 being one of the most remarkable years in modern British history. After all, not many in January 2015 would’ve predicted that David Cameron would win the first Conservative overall majority since 1992, or that long-time maverick Jeremy Corbyn would ride a wave of youthful support into the Labour Leader’s Office.

Whilst 2016 might not be as momentous as last year, the next twelve months could have a significant impact on politics, planning and development. Here are the two main events:

The Housing and Planning Bill will become the Housing and Planning Act

In the coming months we expect to see the Housing Bill gain final approval in the Commons, before passing through the Lords and securing Royal Assent. Once it has passed this process, the Bill will become law and become an Act. The Housing and Planning Act will make fairly fundamental changes to our industry, including:

The introduction of ‘Planning Permission in Principle’ for brownfield sites that are already allocated in a local plan
Granting the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government more power over the preparation of both Local and Neighbourhood Plans
Bringing larger housing schemes under the umbrella of the NSIP regime
Extending Right to Buy

With this package of measures, 2016 could become the year where local authority control over the planning system is significantly diminished.

Elections will take place across the UK

Nearly every part of the UK will see elections in May 2016 – many English Councils will be up for election, along with the Scottish Parliament, and Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly and both the London Mayor and the Greater London Assembly.

Whilst too early to make concrete predictions, each contest will, in its own way, impact on planning and development. With Labour struggling in the polls, we’ll be paying very close attention to those local authorities with small Labour majorities. As for the London Mayoral election – it will be close, but a Labour victory is a strong possibility.

What would this mean for the capital?

A strong focus on affordable housing – with a 50% affordable target on all new developments, a ‘New Homes Team’ (imagine a city hall funded housing association) and the introduction of London Homes Bonds to attract investment in building affordable homes.

Whatever happens over the next twelve months, Local Dialogue will be available to help you navigate the continually evolving planning and political landscape.

Happy New Year from all at Local Dialogue.