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President's Piece October 2015

Date: 20/10/2015

"As anticipated, the hard labour and frantic planning activity over the summer months has born fruit with the imminent release of the Government's Housing & Planning Bill (note the inclusion of "planning" in the bill, significantly!), plus a permanent extension of the Permitted Development Rights for business use office conversion to residential use.

Does a cold Autumn wind feel like it's sweeping through the planning world or is this the sector's and POS opportunity to really influence Government policy and legislation? The Government is pretty determined to get the Bill on the statute book soon as possible with few amendments as it can endure.

Starter Homes obligations on local planning authorities, through a new duty and compliance orders, will certainly throw up the entire planning approach to housing and particularly affordable housing. The brownfield land register and Permission in Principle (PiPs) will test local authorities to up their site allocations game.

The Local Plan making deadline by 2017 with Secretary of State intervention powers to write the plan, are potentially draconian and practically challenging for local government and DCLG. POS meets the Government's Local Plans Expert Panel this week and will seek to influence their findings and recommendations, pushing the approved POS Manifesto on 2-stage plan making approach.

Whilst business rates full devolution is welcome and help refocus local authorities to encourage growth, business investment and economic development, there needs to be supportive planning policies, powers and importantly resources in planning departments, to effectively deliver it.

PDRs goes permanent for B1 offices to residential but exemptions extensions and Article 4 Directions to preserve vitally important economic land uses and office clusters.

So, get ready for the most radical housing and planning reforms and changes since the 1980s. POS will continue to strengthen its asks and ensure the Bill turns out a better Act for planning purpose."

Stewart Murray, President 2015/16

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