Groundsure’s Ceri Sansom discusses the proposed changes to Planning Use Class Order

The proposed changes to Planning Use Class Order are like marmite.

Some like the opportunity to repurpose and redevelop unused commercial properties for residential use. Others will see it as a carte blanche for unregulated, poor quality development.

In my mind it raises the question, what is planning for? Is it unnecessary bureaucracy, or does it help us build well integrated, sustainable, liveable places? If it doesn’t why is this? The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) explore this in detail, looking at how planning funding has changed and been cut and the impact that this has had on all aspects of planning, but particularly on strategic funding. The new proposals cut into this further by largely removing formal planning oversight and only requiring ‘Prior Approval’. Not only that, but it will impact payment for planning applications, a key funding stream for local authorities and also it could impact Section 106 payments to support local infrastructure, resulting in further losses to the local community. With Planning teams experiencing some of the worst cuts in funding within Councils as part of the austerity budgets, strategic funding has been cut away leaving only skeleton regulatory planning in place.   

Given the impact of COVID-19 we can see that we will have to live and work differently. We also urgently need to take this opportunity to adapt to a world impacted by climate change and ecological habitat under pressure. I would argue now is the time to be investing in all aspects of planning, including quality environmental assessment to ensure what we build now is fit for the future.

For specifics of the proposals our sister company Glenigan’s blog provides an excellent summary.


These alterations to Planning Regime may streamline process, but there are still essential checks that must occur as part of the prior approval process. With considerations having to be paid to elements such as SSSIs and Conservation areas, Groundsure is confident that the inclusion of this information (as well as other unique data) in our Groundsure Insight bundle will continue to provide our clients the vital confidence they need when navigating these discussions. Our array of reports and data products give a healthy range of  options depending on if a Phase 1 or a more high level screening is required, our team are happy to advise on the most cost effective solution to suit your requirements.