Decision Maker: Planning & City Development Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
6.1 The Committee received a report which provided an overview of the proposals set out by Government in the Planning White Paper ‘Planning for the Future’ and identifies those aspects that would have the most significant impact on planning in Westminster, should they come forward in the form currently proposed.
6.2 The Planning White Paper proposes significant change to the current planning system in England. The aims of the White Paper, to increase housing delivery, speed up and streamline both the plan-making and decision-making processes and better promote ‘beautiful’ design are supported. However, the lack of detail in the White Paper leaves significant questions about how these aspirations are to be achieved and in many instances further detail will be required following consultation on the White Paper to fully understand the impact that the proposals will have on the management of development and the delivery of good growth in Westminster in the future.
6.3 Members held discussion and noted the following: -
· That the three main pillars of the White Paper were Planning for Development, Planning for Beautiful and Sustainability and Planning for infrastructure and Connected Places.
· That local design guidance and design codes would be prepared with community involvement and would shift the debate around design, characteristics and desirability of developments from being considered at the planning application stage to the planning policy setting stage. The White Paper does not provide any definition about ‘localities’ or how areas would be grouped for the purpose of delivering design codes. The Committee noted that this was of high importance as the built environment of the City has a rich variety of buildings of significant design quality and historic interest and it was preferred for design codes to be flexible and allow local input.
· That there was uncertainty on whether there will be any Growth Areas in the City. At present there is no information on how the Growth, Renewal and Protect Areas would be defined. The Committee noted that further clarification on these three Areas would be given after the consultation ends and that it was probable that some part of the City might be deemed to be ‘Growth Areas’.
· That the Council’s Innovation and Change Service had submitted a response to the consultation regarding the Governments proposed changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need. The Committee noted that there were concerns about the proposed methodology and this was due to the process largely focusing on the maximisation of housing stock, with insufficient regard to the physical, economic and other constraints that can serve to limit housing supply..
· The Planning Service had liaised with Innovation and Change Service regarding responses to the consultation and that local amenity societies and other interested parties had been liaised with to ascertain views about proposed changes and their likely effects on local communities.
· That it was not anticipated that the number of appeals would increase when parts of the Planning White Paper becomes legislation. The Committee noted that the White Paper indicated that there would be regimes within Growth and Renewal areas which may remove the need for full planning applications, with greater consideration of appropriate development in these areas being undertaken at local plan stage or through further expansion of permitted development rights.
· There was a strong indication that conservation areas would continue to be protected and that development in these areas would continue to be assessed under the existing planning regime.
· That development schemes involving the reconversions of office units back into residential units would be largely led by market trends and demands. The Committee noted that there was existing policy which aimed to protect office units and that there had been a considerable reduction in the number of these units. There has been an increase in the demand for smaller local offices in residential areas outside the capital.
Publication date: 04/01/2022
Date of decision: 28/10/2020
Decided at meeting: 28/10/2020 - Planning & City Development Committee