National changes to planning system could have major impact on Dorset

planning blueprintTHE government has published two consultation papers setting out major changes in planning. 

One sets out proposals for a completely new national planning system and the other proposes shorter-term amendments to the current system, which would take effect more quickly.

In the short term, changes to the standard national methodology for working out local housing need would increase the amount to be planned for in Dorset, and the council could only ask for a proportion of affordable housing on sites of 40 or 50 homes, other than in ‘designated rural areas’, such as the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which cover much of Dorset.

Under the longer-term overhaul of the planning system, binding housing targets for every council would be set by national government, taking into account household projections, local housing affordability, and environmental constraints.

Local plans would have to map every part of their area as suitable for growth, renewal or protection, making sure that enough land is identified for growth to meet the housing target.

In areas identified for growth or renewal, developers would not need to apply for outline planning permission as this would automatically be secured for the forms and types of development specified in the plan.

Communities would be involved at plan-making stage, but would not have the chance to comment again on the principle of development at application stage.

A new infrastructure levy would replace the existing Community Infrastructure Levy and section 106 planning agreements.

Dorset Council has said these “dramatic changes” would have a huge impact on the preparation of the new Dorset Council plan and the paper suggests that the new style local plans should all be in place by 2024.

Councillor David Walsh, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “Binding national housing targets, and automatic outline planning permission for sites allocated in plans, would severely limit the local control over development.

“We do not believe that delays in housing delivery are the fault of the planning system.

“Dorset Council will be examining the proposals in detail and will respond to both consultations, but we would strongly urge residents and local groups to respond directly as well.”

The consultation papers can be viewed at and The deadlines for responses are October 1 and 29.

Woodmead Halls

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