Steve Quartermain CBE, hgh Special Planning Adviser, looks back on the highs and lows of 2023, and looks ahead to the New Year
This time of year is always one for reflections on the year just gone and what lies ahead.
For us planners this is no different – but for many of us this has been a troubled 2023, where change is a constant and certainty hard to remember. Since those (almost forgotten) White Papers began the process, there has been a constant flow of new thinking and potential change. Here are 3 areas that I see as key, below.
Consultations: Proof of the Pudding?
In 2023 we saw consultations on new NPPF content (two in fact..), and on CIL reform, Plan making reform, PDR changes, fee increases …and so on and so on. Some of this consultation, one could argue, might be seen as asking for policy ideas rather than seeking advice on specific options, but the proof of the pudding will surely lie in whether any of those thousands of responses have helped influence the eventual outcomes.
A few things have trickled out, such as the fee increases, and some are imminent …. (NPPF anyone?) But arguably the real challenges will come in 2024.
Next year we will see more of the LURA measures brought forward through secondary legislation and guidance. We should expect the National Development Management Policies to be consulted on and, of course, another revised NPPF to sit alongside them. I’d expect more detail on the plan making process and the CIL replacement, with perhaps a view on what an alignment test looks like, and potential road-testing of some of the other ideas, such as Community Land Auctions and Street Votes.
It is hard to be precise here, as there is so much to bring forward from the provisions of the LURA, and in truth not much time to do it… And yes, 2024 might well bring an election, everyone says so…and, whatever the outcome, this will have an impact.
The Chill Factor
The immediate concern has to be the chilling effect all this potential change and uncertainty brings to the process. With over 60 LPAs downing tools on plan preparation, as they await a different objective (usually this is code for a requirement for less houses), the new systems not yet worked through, let alone delivered, and big issues like nutrient and water neutrality still lurking in the shadows.
So while this may be the season to be jolly …..it may well be that in the year ahead developers will need to be jolly determined to pursue their schemes….!