DLUHC Consultation closing 18th October 2023

The Government is consulting on proposed changes to Local Plan Making. The consultation runs for 3 months closing on the 18th of October 2023.

The topic of the consultation set out at the beginning of the document is: “A consultation on our proposals to make local plans (and minerals and waste plans) simpler, faster to prepare, and more accessible.”

Some of the changes currently proposed are limited in their extent with a more substantial review promised at a later stage. The HUDU team will be working with London’s five Integrated Care Boards to respond to the consultation and the final response will be published on our website. We welcome partners sharing their view on the proposed changes and particularly how they support improving health and wellbeing and addressing health inequalities, and what further changes should be included to this end.

You can learn more about the NPPF consultation here:

Plan-making reforms: consultation on implementation – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Designing for the Mind – new guidance published Autumn 2022

The BSI published ‘Design for the Mind – Neurodiversity and the built environment’ in late 2022 to provide a guide to encourage and enable sensory inclusive environments.

The document provides guidance on the “design of the built environment to include the needs of people who experience sensory or neurological processing differences. It covers buildings and external spaces for public and commercial use, and residential accommodation for independent or supported living. It gives guidance on elements including lighting, acoustics, décor, flooring, layout, wayfinding, familiarity, clarity, thermal comfort and odour; and incorporates principles to ensure that people with or having a range of processing differences are able to access and enjoy their experience of the built environment”.

HUDU is interested in sharing case studies where sensory inclusive environments have been created within health and care settings, but also within residential and mixed developments and the public realm. Please let us know of any schemes you’re aware of, or been involved in delivering.

New London Plan published

The new London Plan published in March 2021 provides the policy framework shaping how London evolves over the next 20 years. HUDU contributed to the drafting of the new policies, responded to the public consultations made representations to, and appeared at the hearings of the examination in public to ensure that health and wellbeing was given sufficient priority in the plan. This included strengthening the draft policy ‘Creating a Healthy City, seeking health and wellbeing reflected as a consistent strand throughout the plan, and enabling boroughs, the NHS and partners to ensure that health infrastructure needed to support housing growth is delivered in time for the new population’s arrival.

The six draft Good Growth policies in the final plan are now core ‘good growth objectives’. While all the objectives play a role in supporting health and wellbeing GG3 ‘Creating a healthy city’ is of primary importance. A PDF version of the plan is available here and an accessible online version will be available soon.

GG3 requires health, and the wider determinants of health to be considered and prioritised in all planning decisions and therefore while not specifically referenced in each policy it forms a ‘golden thread’ through the plan which is read as a whole.

Chapter 5 ‘Social Infrastructure’ includes both Policy S1 Developing’s London social infrastructure and Policy S2 Health and Social Infrastructure which are of particular relevance to ensuring adequate social and community infrastructure. Policy S1A requires development plans to be informed by ‘a needs assessment of social infrastructure’. Policy S2 relates specifically to the provision of health and social care infrastructure, and sets out clear requirements around needs assessments, identification of sites and provision to meet growth within development plans, and for development proposals that they support the provision of high-quality new and  enhanced facilities to meet and that these should be accessible by public transport, cycling and walking.

Chapter 10 ‘Transport’ includes Policy T2 Healthy Streets which is an evidence based approach to improve health and reduce health inequalities with ten indicators.

Chapter 11 ‘Funding the London Plan’ paragraph 11.1.37 states “ Boroughs should use the London Healthy Urban Development Unit’s Planning Contribution s Model (HUDU Model) to calculate the capital cost of the additional health facilities required to meet the increased demand.” Details of the HUDU Model can be found here.

Developer contributions – significant changes to regulations

Developers may be asked to provide contributions for infrastructure in different ways. Planning obligations, known as section 106 (s106) agreements are legal obligations entered into to mitigate the impacts of a development proposal. Developers may also contribute towards infrastructure by way of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which is a fixed charge levied on new development to fund infrastructure and intended to address the cumulative impact of development in an area.

The Community Infrastructure Levy (Amendment) (England) (No. 2) Regulations 2019 came into force on 1 September 2019. The amended regulations make changes to how CIL is charged, collected and reported and seeks to clarify the relationship between CIL and s106 contributions. The Government have updated the national Planning Practice Guidance on Community Infrastructure Levy and Planning Obligations to reflect the amended regulations.

The amended regulations follow an independent review of CIL which concluded that the present system of developer contributions was too complex and uncertain and recommended to Government that CIL be replaced with a low-level Local Infrastructure Tariff combined with s106 agreements for larger developments. The Government has not pursued this and instead has amended the current system. Nevertheless, these amendments will result in significant change to the way developer contributions can be used to fund infrastructure.

The key changes

  1. Planning authorities were previously not allowed to pool more than five s106 obligations to fund a single infrastructure project. This pooling restriction has been removed.
  2. The CIL ‘Regulation 123’ List has been removed. Planning authorities can now use CIL and section 106 obligations to contribute towards the same piece of infrastructure, subject to three planning tests (Regulation 122) to ensure that s106 contributions are necessary, reasonable and directly related to the development.
  3. Guidance clearly distinguishes between the purpose of s106 obligations to mitigate site-specific impacts and CIL which can be used to address the cumulative impact of infrastructure in an area. Typically, s106 health contributions have not been sought from individual developments where ‘health’ was identified on an authority’s Regulation 123 List. The removal of the Regulation 123 List will remove this obstacle. 
  4. CIL Regulation 123 Lists will be replaced by an infrastructure funding statement (under Regulation 121A) which identifies the infrastructure required to support development in an area and how it will be funded, using CIL, or s106 obligations, or a combination of both. The first statement should be published by 31 December 2020.
  5. The infrastructure funding statement should also include details of how much money has been raised through CIL and s106 obligations and how it has been spent.
  6. The scale of s106 obligations is influenced by development viability. Previously viability was assessed as part of the planning application. Now, viability is assessed at the local plan stage and viability assessments submitted with a planning application should be based on the plan evidence.

    A briefing note on the impact of the changes can be viewed here.

Consultation on a revised National Planning Policy Framework and developer contributions

The Government are consulting on a revised national planning policy framework and reforms to developer contributions.

The National Planning Policy Framework is six years old and the revised framework focuses on proposals to speed up the delivery of new homes. Overall, the revised policy framework is more prescriptive requiring local authorities to plan positively and quickly to meet housing needs, review policies every five years, agree plans with neighbouring authorities and make more effective use of brownfield land. A housing delivery test to scrutinise local authority performance and a proposal to shorten the time limit to implement planning permissions to less than three years aims to ensure that more planned homes are built.

The revised policy framework proposes:

  • minimum densities for housing development in town and city centres and around transport hubs
  • to require local authorities to allocate at least 20% of their housing supply from small sites of 0.5ha or less
  • broaden the definition of affordable housing to include 10% of homes on major sites as affordable home ownership. Housing for essential local workers, including NHS staff, is also added to the definition.
  • to make best use of land by permitting housing on retail and employment land and, in future, upwards extensions on existing sites to create new homes, but bypassing a requirement for developer contributions for infrastructure
  • to include both non-statutory and statutory consultees in pre-application consultation to resolve issues, such as affordable housing and infrastructure requirements and to secure good design
  • to deliver a range of housing, but no extra emphasis on the need for housing for older people.
  • to continue to promote healthy and safe communities proposing that policies and decisions should consider the social and economic benefits of estate regeneration and additional recognition of the role that planning can play in promoting social interaction and healthy lifestyles.
  • to promote sustainable transport and require authorities to identify additional development opportunities arising from strategic transport infrastructure investment.
  • that plans should set out a clear design vision and expectations, supported by tools and checklists, including Building For Life.

The Government is also consulting on changes to developer contributions in response to an independent review of the Community Infrastructure Levy which was published in February 2017.

In the short term, it proposes to:

  • simplify consultation requirements for setting and revising a CIL charging schedule and to align it with the local plan process when assessing infrastructure needs and development viability.
  • remove the section 106 pooling restriction in areas that have adopted CIL or where significant development is planned on several large strategic sites
  • allow CIL charging schedules to be set based on the existing use of land to capture increases in land value
  • remove regulatory requirements for Regulation 123 lists and require the publication of Infrastructure Funding Statements
  • allow strategic local authorities to introduce a Strategic Infrastructure Tariff to help fund or mitigate strategic infrastructure, citing the success of the Mayoral CIL in London to help fund Crossrail.

In the longer term, the Government will explore the option of a national, non-negotiable developer contribution tariff for affordable housing and infrastructure. The independent CIL Review recommended that the Government should replace CIL with a low level Local Infrastructure Tariff (LIT) with section 106 agreements for larger developments.

The consultation ends on 10 May 2018 and the Government intends to produce a final version of the policy framework this summer. Further details on the consultation can be found here.