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.

Reforming developer contributions – proposed Government measures

It is widely recognised that the current system of developer contributions (section 106 obligations and Community Infrastructure Levy) is too complex and uncertain. In May 2018, HUDU responded on behalf of London NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to the Government’s public consultation on reforms to developer contributions. The Government has responded to the consultation and has proposed measures which reflect some, but not all, of the recommendations of an earlier independent CIL Review (A New Approach to Developer Contributions) which was published in February 2017.

A number of measures will require new guidance and amendments to the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010, and the Government will consult on draft amended regulations in ‘due course’.

HUDU has prepared a briefing note which summarises the key measures and comments on the Government’s response to the public consultation and the need for further reforms as advocated by the CIL Review. The briefing note can be viewed here.

There is a tension between removing planning restrictions to increase the supply of homes and ensuring that the impact of development on infrastructure is adequately addressed. Permitted development rights, such as allowing offices to be converted into residential use without the need for planning permission can also lead to poor quality homes, built in the wrong places. The Town and Country Planning Association has recently launched a campaign ‘Room to Breathe’ urging the government to reconsider permitted development rights.