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2024 is a major year for planning reform

May 30, 2024

By Laura Potts, MRTPI, Planning Consultant, CAD Architects

2024 is a really significant year for planning reforms in England. We are seeing a huge number of changes taking place. In fact, the scope of the changes is greater than any year since introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework in 2012.

The election announced for July 2024 and the possible change of government is likely to mean further modifications and changes.

As this is a time when planning laws are in a state of flux, you may find it especially helpful to speak to us at CAD Planning, an expert planning consultancy based in Cornwall, to help you navigate the best way forward for your own development project.

Below is a topline summary of the key planning rule changes underway this year. These are reshaping how development is approached and this overall trajectory is likely to be continued in future, as the shake up of planning continues.

First, to explain a little about the context for all this. The planning changes are mainly led by the government’s ambitious targets to deliver specific important national strategies. In a nutshell, these are about increasing the number of homes to address the housing shortage; enabling Net Zero to combat climate change and accelerating economic growth. Most of the current planning changes are designed to help meet these three top level strategic agendas.

2024 Planning changes

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act (LURA), 2023

This massive piece of legislation mostly came into effect in December 2023. It introduces new powers to national and local government:

  • A new Infrastructure Levy changes how developers contribute to large construction projects, including paying for improving public services within the area.
  • Local planning authorities (LPAs) are now mandated to establish design codes, determining the location and aesthetic of new housing developments to ensure quality and consistency.
  • A new power enables authorities to refuse any planning application from developers with a history of slow build-out rates.
  • The introduction of Street Votes for local residents to initiate proposals for redeveloping their own homes. (Find out more about this at
  • The enforcement period for breaches of planning control will be extended from four to ten years.

The Future Homes Standard

Initiated by a 2019 consultation into the national Building Regulations, as part of government plans to address the climate emergency, the report recommended modernising building codes to improve ventilation/energy efficiency.

From 2025, the stricter standard will come into effect — requiring new-builds to use 75% to 80% less energy to heat than those built before 2019.

Developers will have to adapt their construction strategies accordingly.

Revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

This document guides LPAs on how to adhere to sustainable development principles. The latest update in December 2023 was initiated when LURA came into effect — setting out a new agenda that local councils must follow when preparing local plans and making decisions on planning applications.

In addition, The National Planning Policy Framework urges authorities to establish a clear economic vision for sustainable growth through the creation of Local Industrial Strategies, as well as five-year and ten-year development plans. Amongst other items, it recommends that:

  • Rural areas should aim to diversify their economies through land-based tourism and leisure developments. (We see this reflected in some of the provisions in the new planning laws for farmers announced in May 2024 and which are the subject of a separate blog article. ).
  • Areas of high deprivation should encourage mixed-use developments to bring people together — boosting economic activity by having commercial and residential zones within walking distance of each other.

These ambitions are reflected in the guidance given to local councils in the latest revisions of the NPPF. For instance, it instructs local planning authorities on the following:

  • Under-utilised space should be earmarked for priority development, including flats above shops, and areas above car parks, service yards, and railway infrastructure.
  • Where possible, opportunities should be taken to encourage the upward development of properties, such as allowing mansard roof extensions in residential areas.

This trend of relaxing planning laws is expected to continue in upcoming changes to the NPPF.

For instance, the DLUHC announced in February 2024 that new rules would allow commercial property (such as restaurants, shops, or offices) to be converted into residential dwellings without the need to seek prior planning permission ( “permitted development rights”.)

Similarly, the government intends to consult on allowing houses to be converted into two flats, as long as the exterior remains unchanged. This planning decision should contribute to overall housing availability.

In addition to these NPPF rule changes, the government plans to consult on removing restrictions surrounding the placement of heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points. If implemented, homeowners and developers could install these devices without the need to apply for planning permission — in theory, accelerating private development of green infrastructure on the route to Net Zero carbon.

Should there be a change in government in July 2024, as is widely predicted, it’s likely that the new government will take a slightly different approach to address the housing shortage. For instance, it has been suggested that Labour would scrap the proposed Infrastructure Levy and rework the Affordable Homes Programme to increase the provision of social housing. If so, this means the NPPF could be up for another review soon.

At this time of significant change and flux, make sure you have expert advice about planning rules so you can stay ahead and streamline your development project.

For advice, get in touch with us at