Queen's Speech – 4 planning changes revealed in biggest shake-up for 70 years

THE biggest shake-up to planning rules in more than 70 years was revealed in the Queen's Speech today.

The speech by Queen Elizabeth officially opens Parliament for a fresh session and spells out Boris Johnson's agenda for the next 12 months.

It's one of the major events in the political year as the PM's plans finally get earmarked to become laws.

The current planning system has hardly been touched since 1947, but the government now plans to replace it through the Planning Bill with reforms that have been brought forward.

The aim is to simplify planning for housing, making sure that homes and infrastructure can be delivered more quickly across England.

It comes as the government aims to create 300,000 new homes annually – more than the 192,725 homes being built currently.

How do you apply for planning permission?

IF you’re thinking of taking on a building project, you can apply for planning permission online.

You’ll probably need planning permission if you want to:

  • Build something new
  • Make a major change to your building, eg building an extension
  • Change the use of your building

You can use a template letter on the Planning Portal website to submit a planning application.

Planning permission for changes to a single property, such as wanting to build an extension, currently cost around £206 in England.

To build a new home, planning permission starts at £462 per 0.1 hectare.

If the site is more than 2.5 hectares, it’s £11,432 plus £138 per 0.1 hectare up to a maximum of £150,000.

This goes up to £22,859 for a block of new-builds containing 50 homes, plus £138 for every additional residency.

Not sure if you need planning permission? Contact your local planning authority (LPA) before submitting your request.

Below we round up the key planning system changes, although more details are yet to be announced.

The bill will extend to the whole of the UK, although the majority of changes will only apply to England.

The Queen also announced:

  • A new online harms bill to keep kids safe online and slam Facebook and Google if they break the rules
  • Fresh plans for a post-Covid crackdown on obesity
  • Ground rents to be banned for new homes
  • Lifetime deposits for renters moving home
  • Protecting animals' feelings in law – with proposals to force cats to get microchipped and new legislation to meet eco goals
  • Ripping up the Fixed Term Parliaments Act so the PM of the day can call an election when they want
  • Fresh plans for voters to take ID to the polls in future
  • Levelling up and extra skills for the North – with new plans for lifetime loans
  • A new NHS bill to reform and update the health system
  • Immigration laws to stop people crossing the channel in small boats
  • New measures to crack down on foreign spies
  • Adults of any age to get four-year student loans to do a degree or retrain
  • A ban on gay conversion therapy

1. Cut the planning system red tape

The Planning Bill aims to significantly cut the time it takes for developments to go through the planning system.

Under the current rules, it takes an average of five years for a "standard housing development" to go through.

In August, housing secretary Robert Jenrick proposed reforms that mean land designated for new homes, hospitals, schools, shops and offices will get automatic permission for firms to start building.

These types of properties will fall under the "for growth" category, meaning work will able to start on the land straight away.

The simplification of the rules would make it more difficult for existing homeowners to block new housing schemes.

Ahead of the speech, Jamie Johnson, chief executive of FJP Investment, said: "People will understandably be wary that if they live in one of the soon-to-be-designated “growth” zones, they could see green spaces built on and have their daily lives disrupted by major construction works.

"Yet at the same time, few would deny that the government must take action if the UK’s housing shortage is to be effectively addressed.

"Making it quicker and easier for housing projects to get the green light is an important part of that."

2. Move to a digital service

The changes also include a move from a document-based planning system to a digital and map-based service.

The hope is that this will allow residents to be more engaged in the development of their local area.

At the moment, only 3% of locals engage with planning applications, according to the government.

3. Change local plans

The government also aims to change local plans so they provide more certainty over the type and design of development permitted.

This would include reforms for locally led development corporations to ensure local areas have access to support for growth and generation.

Mr Jenrick also wants small and medium-sized businesses to build a “substantial” chunk of the 300,000 properties due for construction each year.

They put up 40% of homes in the UK in 1990, but only 12% currently.

4. New frameworks for funding infrastructure

The bill is also set to create new frameworks for funding infrastructure, while at the same time assessing environmental impacts.

This has been made easier after the UK left the European Union.

Fiona Howie, chief executive of the The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), said: "The details of this planning legislation will be critically important if it is to support communities in meeting the major challenges facing society.

"Yes, we need more homes. But the bill must set out a framework that will deliver much more than that.

"It has to transform housing standards and give local people real democratic control over their future."

While Paresh Raja, chief executive of Market Financial Solutions, added: "Naturally, proper judgement must be reserved until the Bill is officially put forward and then duly debated.

"However, it is a move that could light the touch paper for the construction and housing sectors, spurring on a huge amount of investment in the real estate industry in the years ahead.

"And crucially, the end result ought to be many, many more affordable properties for would-be homebuyers."

The Queen, 95, delivered her key-note address today in one of her first major engagements since the death of her husband, Prince Philip.

But the occasion was pared down over Covid, and only featured a few dozen people in the room with Her Majesty.

We explain everything that was announced in the Queen's Speech.

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