Schools, hospitals and homes won’t see standards slip amid planning revolution

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A construction consultancy has digested the planning reforms revolution with assurances over building standards for affordable homes, schools and hospitals for East Anglia

The Planning for the Future White Paper announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick represents a massive change to the planning system, says leading property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood, which has offices across the East of England.

The consultancy says it finds the government’s recognition of the need to boost housing supply, and importance of providing housing opportunities for first-time buyers, extremely encouraging.

The First Homes scheme which will provide newly-built homes at a 30% discount for local people, key workers and first-time buyers is welcomed by the consultancy. The government also intends to replace the current system of developer contributions, including section 106 agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy, with a new infrastructure levy.

The new levy would be set at a fixed proportion of the value of the development above a set threshold, with the proceeds used to fund new roads, local facilities and affordable housing. Whilst it is not known how this new levy would work in practice, the consultancy supports the continued need to provide contributions towards local infrastructure through the planning process.

The government is also proposing a shift away from reliance on documents throughout the planning process to a ‘digital-first’ approach, particularly for those parts of the process that involve community engagement. This is an area that Ingleton Wood are currently reviewing with their clients, to ensure that where possible, any future consultation and engagement can take place using an online platform, providing a more innovative and streamlined way of engaging with the public.

The policy paper published by the government aims to deliver the high-quality, sustainable homes that communities need, but also includes some major reforms which will require careful consideration before implementing. Ingleton Wood want to reassure communities that as a consultancy they will continue to ensure that high-quality building standards are maintained for affordable housing developments, schools, GP surgeries and hospitals after increased targets to build 300,000 new homes nationally every year by the mid-2020s were also announced.

Whilst cutting red tape is the government’s headline aim, these proposals still require decision making through a more rule-based planning process. Local planning experts will therefore remain just as important to the process in navigating the future rules and ensuring developments address community needs and provide high quality accommodation, said the consultancy, which has offices across the East of England, London and Oxford.

Nicol Perryman, associate and planning partner at Ingleton Wood
Nicol Perryman, associate and planning partner at Ingleton Wood

Nicol Perryman, associate and planner at Ingleton Wood, said: “We cautiously welcome the landmark proposed reforms that propose to make future changes to planning laws that aim to support a generation of first-time buyers and key workers to finally join the housing ladder, such as the First Homes scheme selling properties directly at a discount rate. We will also be working closely with our housing association and local authority clients over the coming months to understand how these proposals impact social and affordable housing.

“We work with a range of developers from the very start of the planning application to the end of construction work and pledge to continue ensuring high-quality building standards are maintained every step of the way despite the headline rise in housebuilding targets.

“We aim to do this whilst incorporating new green energy initiatives, such as heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points, and ensuring developments respect local surroundings and heritage. We believe local experts like planners and architects will become more important in navigating the new planning process – to ensure projects are carefully considered and fit for purpose.

“We look forward to examining the consultation papers in further detail over the coming months and considering their wider and future implications.”

Ingleton Wood is one of the largest property and construction consultancies covering Central England, East Anglia, London and the South East, with offices in Colchester, Norwich, Cambridge, Billericay, Oxford and London. Its services include architecture, building surveying, building services engineering, planning, interior design, civil and structural engineering, quantity surveying, project management and health and safety.

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