After the reveal of the government’s planning system overhaul, we spoke to Developing Consensus members to find out their thoughts.

If you’d like to contribute a quote or opinion in response to the planning reforms, please drop an e-mail to

“Planning reform is welcome, but it needs adjustment to suit local and national need and these proposals appear to significantly threaten the quality of the places we live and work in seeking speed in building over the careful balance of sustainable neighbourhoods and economy. Simplifying some of the technocracy needs to be matched with educating about the complexity of the built environment. Back to the drawing board.”


“We have seen a number of well-intentioned legislative interventions as a direct response to COVID, sometimes with unintended consequences.

“An improved planning process needs appropriate checks and balances but will undoubtedly help accelerate delivery of needed housing supply. However the real block to delivery is often financial viability when factoring in infrastructure costs for roads and community facilities, especially in brown field locations, so equally important is the Government committing to funding to help defray that infrastructure cost.”


“As with all planning changes the devil will be in the detail. Whilst there are headline grabbing aspects to the paper and other recent changes what we tend to find is in reality the implementation is often not quite as it seems, for example the additional Permitted Development rights to add an additional two storeys on buildings to create dwellings has so many conditions its use will be very limited.  There does however need to be significant reform. It cannot be acceptable that a landowner/developer, who works with the process by promoting sites through a Development Plan, then encounters years more delay to get through the development management process, so I’d be a strong advocate of the changes that speed up that process.

“In regard to the North East, we have recently been heralded as bucking the trend in relation to the take up rate of Grade A office space and the recent announcement from Invest North East England confirming that we are the most successful region outside of London for foreign direct investments. That is testament to our agility, grit and passion as a region with access to beautiful cities, incredible countryside and beaches. So it is important that the changes, whilst needing to accelerate the ability to bring forward development, doesn’t do so in such a form that means design and environmental quality is lost.

“One lesson the COVID world has taught us all is we need good quality openspaces to access for our health and well-being. To support that continued economic success though we do need to provide the housing for that economic workforce.  Pegasus Economics team have analyised the consultation methodology on calculating housing requirements which shows that across the North East as a whole, all bar one Authority will need to increase their housing requirement, if that standardised methodology approach is carried forward after the consultation.  We have prepared a GIS tool across the country to illustrate the current and potential housing requirement which can be found here:

“We need Local Authorities to embrace the changes, but they must be given the resource to respond, and for the development industry to work collaboratively with them to achieve the full potential for the North East.”

“The proposals set out in the Planning White Paper represent enormous change for the planning system as we know it and the Government has certainly delivered on its commitment to radical reform. Such a level of change cannot happen overnight, however, and it will require significant time and resources, as well as the whole profession pulling together, to make this happen. It is therefore heartening to also see the proposed introduction of a range of shorter term measures to help accelerate housing delivery and place a greater focus on the role of SME house builders in boosting supply.”


“The government often announces ‘reforms’ to ‘streamline the planning system’, however part of the latest proposals do appear to go some way to speeding up the process. The proposed amendment to the Use Class Order is a positive step to support the high street by placing most town centre uses into one one category, allowing for example a shop to change into a cafe without having to apply for permission, or prior approval. 

“The proposals to move towards a ‘zoning’ system for housing development are more complex. Whilst in theory allowing land which is within an allocated area to be developed for housing and schools without applying for planning permission would speed up the delivery of housing, the reality isn’t so straightforward. It is likely that Councils will need to update their Local Plans and thoroughly assess the delivery of sites in a ‘growth’ area. This could essentially involve front loading the assessment of technical matters including access, drainage etc. which could put pressures on under resourced LPA’s and will inevitably take a long time. 

“The plans also fail to address the delivery of affordable housing and prevent development in the greenbelt, which could impact on housing targets being met in towns and cities with tight greenbelt boundaries.”