The Government has launched its consultation White Paper on proposals to reform the planning system in England. Here Sandra Manson, Senior Director at Pegasus Group’s Newcastle office, comments on the changes.

“As with all planning changes the devil will be in the detail.

“While there are headline grabbing aspects to the paper and other recent changes, what we tend to find is in reality the implementation is often not quite as it seems – for example the additional Permitted Development rights to add an additional 2 storeys on buildings to create dwellings has so many conditions its use will be very limited!

“There does however need to be significant reform. It cannot be acceptable that a landowner or developer, who works with the process by promoting sites through a Development Plan, then encounters years more delay to get through the development management process, so I’d be a strong advocate of the changes that speed up that process.

“In regard to the North East, we have recently been heralded as bucking the trend in relation to the take up rate of Grade A office space while a recent announcement from Invest North East England confirmed that we are the most successful region outside of London for foreign direct investments.

“That is testament to our agility, grit and passion as a region with access to beautiful cities, incredible countryside and beaches. It is therefore important that the changes, while needing to accelerate the ability to bring forward development, don’t do so in such a form that means design and environmental quality is lost.

“One lesson the COVID world has taught us all is we need good quality open spaces to access for our health and well-being. To support that continued economic success though, we do need to provide the housing for that economic workforce.

“Pegasus Group’s economics team have analysed the consultation methodology on calculating housing requirements which shows that across the North East as a whole, all bar one LPA (County Durham) will need to increase their housing requirement, if that standardised methodology approach is carried forward after the consultation – some by more than 20 per cent.*

“We have prepared a GIS tool across the country to illustrate the current and potential housing requirement which can be found here:  https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/efeeebaaf7984a709a1843c63007d819.

“We need Local Authorities to embrace the changes, but they must be given the resource to respond, and for the development industry to work collaboratively with them to achieve the full potential for the North East.”

Pegasus Group is a national consultancy with more than 330 employees across 15 offices in the UK and Ireland with experience across all sectors of the development industry including planning, design, environment, economics and heritage.

*Amended housing requirement for the North East:

  • North Tyneside – up 71 (8.8%)
  • South Tyneside – up 85 (24.4%)
  • Gateshead – up 45 (9.9%)
  • Sunderland – up 124 (21.6%)
  • Newcastle upon Tyne – up 40 (11.2%)