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A range of new planning reforms in the pipeline

Mar 26, 2024

By Laura Potts MRTPI, Planning Consultant, CAD Planning

2024 is set to be a busy one for planning reform, with a number of key changes being proposed and consulted on. In this article, we examine three specific areas of reform: street votes, national development management policies, and build out rates.

Street Votes
The government has secured new powers through the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 to introduce a new route to planning permission called street vote development orders and intends to bring forward secondary legislation to govern how they will operate.

Street vote development orders are described as an innovative new tool that will give residents the ability to propose development on their street and, subject to the proposal meeting certain requirements, vote on whether that development should be given planning permission.

Street vote development orders will provide residents with a new opportunity to take a proactive role in the planning process and bring forward the development they want to see on their streets. They will encourage residents to consider the potential for new development on their streets and are intended to deliver additional or more spacious homes in places where they are needed most, while helping to reduce development pressure on sensitive areas.

The government says that If the vote passes then everyone on the street has the right to develop their property in line with the plan. They say this will “lead to an instant increase in the value of their property while helping with the housing crisis.”

The government has recently conducted a public consultation on this change and is now considering how to take the proposals forward.

Will this approach work? That remains to be seen. While it is a positive thing to have more local democracy in action in planning, many experts have raised a number of concerns.

It could create more disputes and disagreements among neighbours, if it is not handled very carefully. If it leads to piecemeal development on a street by street basis, that could start to undermine the specific character of certain neighbourhoods. Also, if the approach favours people who have the time and resources to put new proposals forward, then this may benefit higher income groups and be less effective and helping those with lower incomes.

National Development Management Policies
It is proposed that National Development Management Policies (NDMPs) will replace planning policies that tend to be similar across local plans, such as policies around heritage, flood risk, and inappropriate Green Belt development. The government sees the benefits of this approach as follows:

  • They will help local authorities produce swifter, slimmer plans by removing the need to set out generic issues of national importance such as policies for protecting the Green Belt.
  • They will make plans more locally-relevant and easier for communities and other users to digest.
  • It will be easier for applicants to align their proposals with national and local policy requirements and, where they wish, to go beyond them.
  • They will provide greater assurance that important policy safeguards which apply nationally, or to significant parts of England will be upheld with statutory weight and applied quickly across the country.
  • They will mean that this framework of common national policies can guide decisions even if the local plan is significantly out-of-date and cannot be relied upon.

The government will be carrying out a public consultation on this change. Observers have already raised some concerns about whether this will streamline the planning process, whether it is right that the NDMP should take priority over the local plan, and whether being forced to adhere rigidly to the NDMP might stifle locally-based innovation.

Build Out Rates
In a recent statement, the government confirmed that its stated goal of achieving 300,000 new homes per year by the mid-2020s remains in place.

Against this background, the government is concerned that the speed at which new housing is built after planning permission has been granted is too slow.

To move forward, during 2024 the government will launch a consultation to address this issue. This is likely to include potential financial penalties for developers who do not build out quickly enough.

The proposals may force developers to publish details of missed targets for build outs. They may also give local authorities the power to factor in build out rates when considering whether to grant planning permission.

Planning Expertise
At CAD Planning, we will be keeping a close watch on all these developments, so that we can provide our clients with expert advice on how they may be affected by any changes.

We also have to be aware that, in an election year, we may have a change of government, with implications for future potential changes in planning law.

We have the experience you need to develop a successful planning strategy and will guide you carefully through every step of the process.

For a no-obligation discussion about your project, get in touch us at