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  • Helen Winkler

England to be Divided Into Three Planning Zones

The ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper proposes that the whole of England would be zoned into three categories - growth, renewal or protected areas. It will be a rules, data and map based system.

If implemented as proposed:

There would be continued restriction of development in protected areas such as Green Belts, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Local Wildlife Sites, areas of significant flood risk, Conservation Areas (CAs), important areas of green space and areas of open countryside not included within growth or renewal areas. Local authorities would be able to continue to consider the case for resisting ‘inappropriate’ development of residential gardens which could be included as protected areas. Protected areas should explain what is permissible by cross-reference to the National Planning Policy Framework.

Growth areas would be identified as suitable for ‘substantial’ development where outline approval for development would be automatically given for forms and types of development specified in the Plan. Further details would be agreed and full permission achieved through streamlined and faster consent routes which focus on securing good design and addressing site-specific technical issues’.

Legislation will be introduced to require that a masterplan and site-specific code are agreed as a condition of the permission in principle which would be granted through the Local Plan. These could be prepared by the local planning authorities or land promoter alongside or after preparing the Local Plan, establishing key principles. The masterplan and site specific code will need to be in place before detailed proposals come forward.

Growth areas could cover, for example, new towns, urban extensions, a cluster of growth focused businesses, and areas of regeneration and renewal. Areas of flood risk and constraint would generally be excluded from this category unless flood risk could be fully mitigated. Growth areas should allow sub-areas to be created specifically for self and custom-build homes, and community-led housing developments.

Renewal areas would be identified as suitable for ‘some’ development, such as ‘gentle densification’, infill in residential areas, development in town centres, non-protected rural areas, and small sites within or on the edge of villages. There would be a statutory presumption in favour of development being granted for the uses specified as being suitable in each area. The pre-approval of popular and replicable ‘pattern book’ designs would be allowed through permitted development.

In both the growth and renewal areas the key and accompanying text for the colour coded interactive plans should specify suitable development uses and any limitations on height and/or density which could be specified for sub-areas within each category.


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