White paper aims to encourage councils to focus on major projects by removing planning requirements for minor alterations

The government unveiled a wide-ranging package of planning reforms designed to speed up major infrastructure projects and give councils more time to deal with strategic housing projects today.

The planning white paper ‘Planning for a Sustainable Future’, which was published on Monday, includes proposals to

  • Give councils more time to consider large developments by abolishing the need for planning permission for minor developments, such as conservatories, small scale extensions and micro-generation devices like solar panels
  • Allow minor amendments to be made to a planning permission, like the repositioning of a door, without the need for a full planning application.
  • Cut the deadline for lodging appeals to within eight weeks of the local council’s decision rather than six months
  • Introduce new rules under which council development plans will need to include measures to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Cut red-tape for householders wanting to install small-scale renewable technologies - such as solar panels - planning permission no longer required where it is clear there is little or no impact on neighbours.
  • Replaces existing curbs on retail development with a test designed to prioritise town centre sites
Ruth Kelly
Kelly: better system required for difficult decisions

The white paper also says that the government will not water down protection of the green belt and states that brownfield land will remain the first priority for housing development.

Announcing the white paper in the House of Commons, communities minister Ruth Kelly said: “If we are to thrive, we need a better system for taking the difficult decisions. If we do not the risks are significant - energy shortages, mounting congestion and increasing pollution.”