Queen's Speech 2019: Planning white paper promises 'clearer and more certain process'

The government has committed to publishing a "planning white paper" in the "coming months" to make the process "clearer, more accessible and more certain for all users" and to address local authority "resourcing and performance", according to today's Queen's Speech.

A government briefing note published alongside this morning's speech said the government "is committed to building at least a million more homes over this Parliament", reiterating a promise in the Conservative election manifesto.


It adds: "In the coming months we will set out further steps to achieve this, including an ambitious Planning White Paper and funding for critical infrastructure.


"The Planning White Paper will make the planning process clearer, more accessible and more certain for all users, including homeowners and small businesses. It will also address resourcing and performance in planning departments."


An "accelerated planning green paper" to address issues of council resources, including allowing higher application fees, and to speed up the planning process was first announced by the previous administration under ex-Prime Minister Theresa May.


In October, it was announced by new housing secretary Robert Jenrick that this had been upgraded to a white paper.


In the same month, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said the paper was due to be published in November, but this was then delayed by the general election.


At the time, the MHCLG said the paper would look at reducing pre-commencement conditions "by a third" and reviewing application fees "to ensure council planning departments are properly resourced, providing more qualified planners to process applications for new homes and other proposals".


It would also include "the potential for more fees to be refunded if councils take too long to decide on specific planning applications", the ministry added, with the aim of creating a more "user-friendly" approach.


Elsewhere, the Queen's Speech briefing note said the government will publish the National Infrastructure Strategy "alongside the first budget", which will "set out further details of the Government’s plan to invest £100 billion to transform the UK’s infrastructure".


The strategy will include the government’s formal response to the National Infrastructure Commission’s 2018 National Infrastructure Assessment, "which made a series of independent recommendations to government across all sectors of economic infrastructure (transport, energy, digital, waste, water and flood management)".


The speech also promised that the government will:

  • re-introduce the Environment Bill, which was withdrawn when the general election was called. The bill includes a mandatory requirement for developers to secure an overall ten per cent biodiversity net gain in all new schemes, while local authorities will have to draw up spatial "local nature recovery strategies".

  • publishing an English devolution white paper, "levelling up powers and investment in the regions across England and allowing each part of the country to decide its own destiny". This would increase the "number of mayors" and involve "doing more devolution deals", it adds. We "remain committed to the Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine, and Western Gateway strategies".