Sara’s Blog: Planning laws shake up – and have your say in what gets built where for the future

The biggest shake-up to planning rules in more than 70 years was revealed in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday. And, at the same time, there is chance for businesses to influence what gets built where – and particularly where you might want to build new premises – in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle.

The current planning system has hardly been touched since 1947, but the Government, after many false attempts, now plans to replace it through the Planning Bill with reforms that have been brought forward.

The aim is to simplify planning for housing, making sure that homes and infrastructure can be delivered more quickly across England. It comes as the government aims to create 300,000 new homes annually – an increase of over 100,000 new homes per annum. What businesses also need to know is whether there will be enough “employment land” for their growth and development.

The key planning system changes are:

Cutting Red tape: The Planning Bill aims to cut the time it takes for developments to go through the planning system. Under the current rules, it takes an average of five years for a “standard housing development” to go through. And businesses who are engaged with the system for their own developments know that it is a tortuous and complex system – and seems to be quite opaque.

Move to a digital service: The changes also include a move from a document-based planning system to a digital and map-based service. The hope is that this will allow residents to be more engaged in the development of their local area. Presently only percent of locals engage with planning applications, according to the government. However, residents often oppose business development and so this could be difficult for companies seeking to build or expand.

Change local plans: The government also aims to change local plans, so they provide more certainty over the type and design of development permitted. This would include reforms for locally led development corporations to ensure local areas have access to support for growth and generation.

However, the current Local Plans need to have businesses input. Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Local Plan went out for consultation this week until 21st June.

We are running a Local Plan Consultation Webinar with Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 18th May. It will be introduced by chair of the Chambers Planning and Infrastructure Forum, Carl Copestake, and presented by Thomas Lewis and Harmesh Jassal from Stoke City Council. It is a chance to find out about the plan and how it will affect you and your business, allowing you to raise any issues before the 21st June deadline. You can book your place here:

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that the planning system should be genuinely plan-led with succinct and up-to-date plans providing a positive vision for the future of an area and a framework for addressing housing needs and other economic social and environmental priorities including sustainability.

New frameworks for funding infrastructure: The Bill is set to create new frameworks for funding infrastructure, while at the same time assessing environmental impacts, made easier after the UK left the EU.

The details of this planning legislation will be critically important if it is to support communities in meeting the major challenges facing society. We need more homes. But the Bill must set out a framework that will deliver much more than that. It must transform housing standards and give local people true democratic control over their future AND provide for businesses and companies to provide more opportunities for work in up-to-date factories and offices.

Finally, Businesses across the country will be relieved to hear that they will be able to re-open or restart more of their operations on May 17th. The last few months have seen many firms either severely restricted in their activities, or unable to trade at all, and this announcement will come as a huge boost to them.

Questions remain over what kind of restrictions businesses will be expected to operate under in the medium to long-term, and government must move to answer these as soon as possible. In addition, government must continue to do everything it can to support businesses in the transition back to full trading, giving them every chance to recover and thrive in a post-pandemic world.

If you want to talk to us about any business issues, you can call our switchboard on 01782 202222 or call the Stoke and Staffs Growth Hub Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email:

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