Wednesday, 23 March 2011
A Budget for...., er,....town planning?
Rather naively, I had always thought that the Budget presented to parliament each year by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was intended to deal primarily with fiscal matters, including the raising of the necessary taxation to finance the government’s spending plans. Nowadays, however, the Budget seems to be regarded as an opportunity to announce (or, in quite a few cases, to re-announce) all sorts of other policy initiatives, provided only that they can be said to have some sort of relevance to the economy.
One certainly would not have expected the Budget to be the vehicle in the past for announcing changes to the planning system, but that is nevertheless what we got today. At the time of writing, I have not yet got to grips with any of the detail, which will have to be teased out in the next few days from the plethora of press releases, policy statements and sundry supporting documentation which are now a traditional accompaniment to the Budget.
The two most significant changes had been pre-announced in the past few days – another modern practice. (There was a time when the Chancellor went into purdah before the budget; the details of the budget were a closely-guarded state secret, and even the Cabinet only got a last-minute briefing from the Chancellor.) These changes relate to the creation of a number of new enterprise zones and a proposal to allow a change of use of commercial premises to housing, presumably under a revised and expanded Part 3 in the Second Schedule to the GPDO.
It is the details of the latter proposal which we are all eager to discover. There are bound to be quite a few ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, and it will be interesting to see how this change will work in practice. I am particularly interested to know whether the new permitted development rights will apply only to premises currently within Use Class B1, or whether B8 and possibly even B2 might also be included. I shall come back to this topic when the details emerge.
© MARTIN H GOODALL