Planning Reforms Should be Reconsidered, Government Warned


The government's proposed planning reforms will not speed up housebuilding or make the process cheaper, a cross-party committee of MPs has warned.

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee has published a report urging the government to reconsider the reforms, which include a zonal approach for planning and replacing Section 106 with a national infrastructure levy.

A Section 106 is a legal agreement between an applicant seeking planning permission and the local planning authority, which is used to mitigate the impact of your new home on the local community and infrastructure. In other words, a new house will mean another car(s) on the roads and perhaps your children will attend nearby schools, putting a little more strain on local services.

As such, Section 106 Agreements often require a financial contribution, made prior to the project starting. Unlike the Community Infrastructure Levy which is tariff-based, Section 106 is charged based on the specific needs of the local community and some councils use the number of bedrooms in the new home to decide what this charge should be. For example, a council might ask for a contribution to the local school for a new four-bedroom family house in an area with limited school places.

This means that the fees vary widely from place to place and some self builders were faced with Section 106 charges that made up a large proportion of their overall project cost. Exemption was introduced for self builders in November 2014, but some councils were quick to seek to challenge this decision.

The MPs said in the report that they are unpersuaded that the proposed zonal approach to planning will produce a quicker, cheaper and democratic planning system, and called for further details to be provided.

On the Section 106 proposal, the MPs say this could jeopardise the availability of affordable housing in the UK. They also argue that the government should stump up an extra £125m a year for local planning departments.

Source: Homebuilding & Renovating

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