Planning bill will be ‘early next year’, says minister

Housing minister Christopher Pincher has said the government’s final response to the planning white paper and related legislation will “probably” come forward early next year.

Pincher gave the update yesterday at the annual Planning For Housing conference, which was hosted by Planning

He discussed the process by which the newly-named Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) would review the proposed changes to the planning system that were set out in last year’s planning white paper and assess the 44,000 responses to the white paper consultation. 

There is a “clear need” for the planning system to become “speedier, more transparent and more predictable”, he said.

“We want to get that right, so in order to determine the best way forward we are taking a pause – a step back if you will – to evaluate proposals in the light of the consultation that was undertaken last year, to make sure the planning proposals we have fit with our core mission to level up the country and regenerate communities,” he said.

“It is right that Michael [Gove], as the new secretary of state, looks very carefully at those responses and our initial reactions to them,” he added. 

He said the department wanted to make sure it is looking at the regeneration aspects of the proposals, and channelling them through the prism of levelling up. 

“Then we will be able to come forward with a final response and legislation probably in the earlier part of next year,” he said. 

Pincher was also asked about rumours in the last 24 hours that the forthcoming Planning Bill would be called the “Regeneration and Planning Bill”, and whether that term is being used by the department. 

“The name of the bill is generally the last thing that is decided,” said Pincher.

“We need to make sure all our proposals regenerate and level up the communities that we need to level up both in terms of geography and also in terms of opportunity. There are places within areas that are pretty wealthy where there are inequalities as oftentimes there is an inability to buy or rent because house prices are just too high. 

“So regeneration as a badge is going to be an important one, but I wouldn’t attach too much importance to titles at this point,” he said. 

Elsewhere in the session, Pincher stressed the importance of local authorities getting their local plans in place by the 2023 deadline, adding that the department would contact slower local authorities to see how it could help.

A version of this story first appeared on ENDS Report's sister site, Planning.