Strategic Land Series – Planning Considerations

In the fourth edition of the Strategic Land Series, Hannah Langford, a Partner in the Real Estate & Projects team at Devonshires, will discuss current policies and legislative proposals. Previous editions of this series have focused on Option Agreements, Promotion Agreements, and Hybrid Agreements.

Previous articles in this series have highlighted that the acquisition of land and its promotion through the planning system has become an important element in contributing towards the Government’s targets for new house building,

The supply of new land for housing is an increasingly important and contested issue. In the forward to Planning White Paper – Planning for the Future (August 2020), the Prime Minister states that the planning system should deliver “The homes we need in the places we want to live in at prices we can afford, so that all of us are free to live where we can connect our talents with opportunity”.

The Government has heralded wholesale reform of the planning system by proposing a range of strategic land policies, including zonal planning, scrapping individual development plans and the introduction of a national infrastructure levy.

With the removal of Robert Jenrick as the Secretary of State responsible for planning and his replacement Michael Gove ‘pausing’ the proposals, it is unclear whether the reforms designed to help meet the 300,000 new homes target will be introduced. This edition of the Strategic Land Series focuses instead on current policies and legislative proposals which should be taken into account in promoting or bringing forward planning applications for strategic sites.

Biodiversity Net Gain
The Environmental Bill is expected to become law later this year. Once implemented it will become mandatory for developers to submit biodiversity net gain information with planning applications.

Developers will have to achieve a minimum 10% new biodiversity gain guaranteed for at least 30 years through planning conditions, obligations or conservation covenant.

Biodiversity Net Gain is not a new concept. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) already provides that planning should provide biodiversity net gains. However there will be a greater emphasis on considering the Biodiversity Net Gain from the outset of the development process. It will be compulsory for developers and landowners to engage with and demonstrate to planning authorities that compensation options have been considered, evaluated and are capable of being delivered. The mitigation hierarchy enshrined in paragraph 175 of the NPPF still applies and developments should seek to avoid, mitigate and compensate for biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity gain will be measured using the Defra biodiversity metric which assesses habitat in relation to wildlife, condition and size.

Building beautiful
Changes to the NPPF published in July 2020 reflect the Government’s commitment to creating ‘beautiful’ places. The concept of beautiful is not defined. The NPPF however signals that beautiful places should be agreed between planning authorities, communities and developers and reflected in local and neighbourhood plans and design guides.

All local planning authorities are required to publish design guides and codes which are consistent with the principles in the National Design Guide and National Model Design Code.

Those bringing forward planning applications for strategic sites will need to focus on designing and delivering schemes which reflect local and national design guides. Whilst detail of design can be tailored for each scheme, developments which are not well designed and do not reflect local design guides and the National Design Guide should be refused.

Tree lined streets
In common with the White Paper, the NPPF says that tree planting should be encouraged.

Planning policies and decisions should ensure that new streets should be tree-lined and that trees are incorporated in open spaces and other communal areas. The cost of tree provision and future maintenance will need to be submitted with planning applications.

Please do not hesitate to contact Hannah Langford or Katie Fung, or another member of the Real Estate & Projects team, Jonathan Corris, Neil Toner, Triya Maicha or Elad Yasdi, with any queries.

Upcoming Webinar

We will be hosting our upcoming Strategic Land webinar on 29 September! Click here to register your place.

The webinar will look at current market trends we are seeing in strategic land transactions and will feature a Q&A session where we will discuss the most commonly asked questions. If you have any questions that you would like answering and so we can tailor our webinar, we ask you to submit your questions and comments to us on Strategic Land by clicking here.

To help keep this webinar of interest for all delegates, it would be helpful if questions can be kept as generic as possible. Whilst we will endeavour to answer and discuss a variety of questions during our webinar, please note we cannot guarantee that we will be able to respond to all of your questions.

For more information on the upcoming webinar please contact Katie Fung.

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