Plan making is in a state of flux with radical proposals to move to a more zonal based system put forward in the Planning for the Future White Paper published in August, labelled as the most significant change to the planning system since its inception in the 1940s.

Consultation on the government’s proposals has now closed and we wait with interest to see how the government responds.

Changes proposed in the White Paper include setting a 30-month target for preparation and adoption of Plans (some have been taking well over five years); overhauling sustainability appraisal, and the Duty to Cooperate, an issue that has caused significant difficulties for many Local Planning Authorities (LPAs). For example, Tonbridge & Malling in recent months where we (amongst others) have been challenging the Council’s compliance with the duty and the Inspectors have identified failings and have halted the examination.

Winchester City Council (WCC) anticipates that government changes to the planning system (if adopted) could be rolled out by 2022/23, ahead of their own Local Plan adoption.  WCC is putting itself forward as a pilot authority for the new way of preparing local plans.

Meanwhile, although some authorities like Winchester have decided to wait for further direction from the government (we understand from a recent Agent’s forum that Test Valley Borough Council is another), local plan work continues in many areas, with all LPAs expected to have an up-to-date adopted plan by the end of 2023, or risk intervention.

East Hampshire District Council has just this month approved to amend its approach to its emerging new Local Plan to respond to the anticipated changes arising from the White Paper.  This includes extending the plan period and identifying the need for at least another strategic site allocation.

We are actively involved in a number of live local plan consultations, promoting client interests,  including:

  • West Berkshire Local Plan Review (Regulation 18) – deadline 5th February;
  • Wiltshire Council (Regulation 18) – deadline 9th March;
  • Dorset Council (Regulation 18) – deadline 15th March.

(Local plan deadlines are subject to change, so please check with us for the latest position).

If you would like to know more about these issues or you want to discuss how these changes might affect a specific project, please contact us on: 01794 368 698 or [email protected]