Agenda item

Planning White Paper


Councillor Wain – Portfolio Holder – Planning, Development and Property and Ben Haywood – Head of Development Services, introduced a report which appraised Members of:

a.    recent changes to the planning system enacted in the Business and Planning Act 2020

b.    proposed changes to the current Planning System as set out in the Government Consultation Document Published 6 August 2020

c.    proposed changes as set out in the White Paper “Planning for the Future” which was published for consultation by Government on 6th August 2020


The Panel was also asked to consider the Council’s response to the consultations and key issues and concerns were highlighted. Due to the level of information to be considered, it was suggested that a seminar was convened for all members to be invited to attend.


The Business and Planning Bill received Royal Assent on 22 July 2020. It introduced a series of changes to planning legislation intended to help businesses, particularly in the hard-hit hospitality and construction sectors, to get back to work safely and quickly. The key changes and implication were detailed in the report.


The consultation also set out proposals for measures to improve the effectiveness of the current planning system. The 4 main proposals included:

·         changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need

·         for First Homes to be secured through developer contributions in the short term until the transition to a new system

·         support for small and medium-sized builders by temporarily lifting the small sites threshold below which developers do not need to contribute to affordable housing

·         extension of the current Permission in Principle to major development


The proposed changes to the current planning system would update the standard methodology in the assessment of housing requirements and the White Paper, titled “Planning for the Future”, set out a series of high-level reforms to streamline and modernise the planning process. Key changes were summarised in the report.


The Chair thanked all officers involved with the preparation of this report and Members made the following comments:-


·         It was hoped that a number of the proposals would not be included in the final policy;

·         Issues had been identified well in the report;

·         This was an enormous change and would take a long time to establish;

·         Small local authorities may not have the skill sets around ‘beautiful’ design and sustainable places which could lead to a number of issues;

·         Concern in relation to paragraph 5.7 - Demolition and Rebuilding for Residential, particularly in the Biddulph area and extension of the opening of holiday parks;

·         Major concern around permitted development rights and loss of local input in regard to planning applications;

·         In some cases some of the proposals were a backward step;

·         Agreed there was a requirement for member training;

·         Very little time to make comments;

·         For the Councils response to include a section on the protection of nature, climate resilience and more emphasis on living alongside nature.


A member of the Panel requested that the data from the most recent housing need survey be provided by ward as she was very concerned about the figure being set nationally. Mark James – Principal Planning Officer, explained that housing need surveys were specific to parishes and related to affordable housing need in the short term. The Council did have a Strategic Housing Market Assessment which set out housing needs for the Local Plan, based on the Government’s previous methodology. For the Staffordshire Moorlands this was 320 homes per year.  However, if the proposals within the white paper were agreed, the figure for the number homes in the future would be set nationally.


Ben Haywood – Head of Development Services, gave assurance around the permitted development rights as these would still be subjected to a prior approval process. The Council would have control over the appearance and residential amenity of a development and additional protections such as listed buildings would remain in place.


To separate seminars would be arranged for members. The first would be arranged as soon as possible, and the second towards the end of October to consider the white paper.




That the Panel NOTE the report and RECOMMEND delegated authority to the Executive Director (Place) to prepare a final response to both consultations based on the attached summary tables, incorporating any comments of the Service Delivery Overview and Scrutiny Panel  and Cabinet and to submit them to Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government before the end of the consultation periods.


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