ICE response to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee inquiry: the planning system

This response sets out ICE’s views on improving the planning and delivery of economic infrastructure to enable and support housing.

  • Updated: 19 November 2020
  • Author: David Hawkes, ICE Policy Manager
ICE’s 2019 State of the Nation report made a number of recommendations on the interventions required for better integrating the planning and delivery of housing and infrastructure. Our response to this inquiry draws on this report’s findings and sets out further detail in the context of the government’s proposals in Planning for the Future.

This submission focuses specifically on question one of the Committee’s inquiry and makes the following key points:
  • The proposals in Planning for the Future recognise a number of challenges within the current planning system and suggest bold action to address them. However, some deficiencies remain and must be focused on as this work is taken forward.  
  • While not in any way ruled out, strategic planning across local authority boundaries seems to have a less, rather than more, significant role via the proposals in the White Paper. The proposed removal of the Duty to Cooperate without a replacement is particularly concerning. We believe that strategic infrastructure planning must be more prominent through the application of integrated regional infrastructure strategies that include housing, and have read across with MHCLG’s work on devolution.  
  • The proposed new Infrastructure Levy places an undue financial burden on local authorities while itself not appearing to be suitable for use on major infrastructure projects due to a limited ability to forward fund mitigations. While the current levy regime can undoubtedly be improved, and a focus on land value capture is to be welcomed, replacing section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy entirely with it is not appropriate, particularly for major infrastructure projects.
  • We welcome government’s openness to explore the use of Development Consent Orders to deliver large-scale new settlements. The DCO process almost certainly offers an effective potential delivery mechanism, but it would need to be integrated more effectively with wider spatial planning if it is to offer a robust approach. At the same time, empowering and effectively resourcing Local Planning Authorities to participate fully and effectively through the pre-application, examination, and post-consent stages can further enhance and reinforce the certainty that the DCO process provides.  

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