All change? Potential land use and planning policy changes under a new government

In June, we wrote a quick summary of the report “Land for the Many”. Land for the Many was written by a team headed by George Monbiot and made proposals for the Labour Party to consider as future land use and planning policy. We subsequently wrote a longer article on the report, which was first published in this month’s edition of Property Law Journal and is also available at Since then, the Labour Party has confirmed some of the land use and planning proposals that will be adopted as Labour Party policy. These include: that new public development corporations will have the power to buy and develop land in the public interest, and that they will be able to do so at what Land for the Many called “near use” value (similar to “existing use” value); that information on planning and land ownership, etc, should be published as “open data”; that affordable rents will be set locally so that they are genuinely affordable; that there will be a significant increase in the number of socially rented homes built per year, the majority of which will be council homes; and that local communities will have priority over new housing. It has also been announced that the Labour Party will build one million low cost homes over 10 years. Many of these policies, which will inform the Labour Party manifesto for the next general election, reflect proposals in Land for the Many. The devil will be in the detail. It will be interesting to see how the policies are fleshed out, and whether or not the Labour Party manifesto takes forward other proposals which were made in the report.

Interestingly, housing policies endorsed by the Liberal Democrat Party at their party conference this autumn follow a similar theme. Proposals in Policy paper 136, A Fairer Share for All, endorsed at conference as a statement of Liberal Democrat policy, include: reforming the Land Compensation Act so that landowners are paid a “reasonable price” for their land, which won’t take account of potential planning permissions; building 100,000 homes for social rent per year, and maintaining social housing stock as a national asset; a first right to purchase public land for social housing; and a new dedicated arms-length government body to compulsorily purchase low amenity land at current use value. For the private sector: a new regulator will be created, with which all private landlords with more than 25 properties will have to register; longer term tenancies of three years or more will be introduced; and no fault evictions will be scrapped. Developments which include social housing will have to deliver that housing in such a way that there is no visible distinction between the privately owned and social units.

It is clear that the housing crisis is recognised by all the major parties as a key concern. Regardless of what triggers the next election, if we see a change in government we can expect changes to land use and planning policies; the only question is how far they will go.

Authors: Fiona Sawyer and Jane McMenemy, professional support lawyers, planning and real estate, London

For further information, please contact:

Fiona Sawyer
Fiona Sawyer
Professional support lawyer, planning, London
+44 20 7466 2674
Jane McMenemy
Jane McMenemy
Professional support lawyer, real estate, London
+44 20 7466 2850

Back to Basics: Housing Need and Delivery


From 25 January 2019 (although see here for our commentary on the ambiguity surrounding the actual date), local planning authorities must use the new standard methodology for assessing housing need set out in the National Planning Policy Framework published in July 2018 (“NPPF”). As part of our ‘back to basics’ blog series, this blog post explores:

Continue reading

Revised National Planning Policy Framework—will it fix the housing market?

This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Planning on 9 August 2018.

Will the government’s new planning rulebook deliver on its promises? Robert Walton, barrister at Landmark Chambers, says the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is a step in the right direction and should result in more houses. Matthew White, partner and head of the planning team in Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s London office, predicts that, by itself, the revised NPPF will not streamline the planning process, nor close the gap between planning permissions and housing delivery. Continue reading

Impact of revised National Planning Policy Framework

The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published on 24 July 2018. This post considers what difference it will make – in terms of the impact on developers, whether the government’s aims will be achieved and how soon its effects might be seen.

Impact on developers

On the whole, policies in the revised NPPF are more restrictive. Tighter controls over design standards, green belt boundaries, developer contributions and viability appraisals, stronger protection for the environment and the introduction of the “agent of change” principle to new development all provide little incentive to bring forward development.

A welcome change, however, is that LPAs should now take a more flexible approach to daylight and sunlight issues.

The new standardised methodology for calculating housing need, which takes effect immediately, represents a significant change for residential development. It will provide more certainty on housing requirements in each LPA’s area, generally with an increase in housing targets. Local authorities’ success in delivering against these targets will be assessed by the new Housing Delivery Test. From November 2018 local plans will be deemed out of date if the LPA fails to deliver 25% of its housing target as assessed by the new standardised methodology; this threshold will increase in subsequent years to 45% of the target from November 2019 and 75% of the target from November 2020. If local plans are deemed out of date the presumption in favour of sustainable development will be brought into play, increasing the likelihood that planning permission will be granted. Continue reading

Reasons to be cheerful

It is good practice for a local planning authority to give reasons for the grant of planning permission. Failure to give adequate reasons may be serious enough to justify quashing the permission.

There is a statutory duty to give reasons for the grant of permission for EIA development.  However, even if it is not EIA development, reasons will need to be given where the grant of permission does not follow the planning officer’s recommendation; where the development would not comply with planning policy; and where there is significant public interest in the proposals. The law on the duty to give reasons was summarised and confirmed recently in a Supreme Court case, Dover District Council v CPRE Kent (2017) UKSC 79.

1. Background

2. Supreme Court

3. Comment


1. Background

The Dover case related to a planning application for a large residential development in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). Before the local authority granted permission, the planning officer’s report had made several recommendations, including reducing the number of residential units, to reduce the harm caused to the AONB. The report stated that this would preserve scheme viability and retain the economic benefits of the development, which helped to provide the finely balanced exceptional justification needed for causing harm to the AONB. The officer’s report also recommended implementation as a ‘single comprehensive scheme’ to secure those economic benefits (including a hotel and conference centre) and conditions or planning obligations to achieve this.

Planning permission was granted by the local authority without following these recommendations. No reasons were given by the local authority for this departure from the officer’s report.

2. Supreme Court

Continue reading