In this blog, you will learn:

  • How Brexit has impacted the planning sector.
  • How the planning sector can overcome challenges caused by Brexit.
  • Where the latest planning jobs are and how to apply for them. 

On June 23rd 2016, a referendum took place to decide whether Britain would leave or remain in the European Union (EU) and after months of negotiation and debate, the UK officially departed the EU on January 31st 2020.

It goes without saying that Brexit has been a complex and divisive issue that has had significant implications for the UK and EU since its conception. After making the decision to leave the EU, the UK has witnessed changes in trade agreements, border controls and travel policies, and in some way or another, every industry has felt the repercussions of a history-making decision. 

The UK planning sector is one industry to have experienced changes since Brexit took place and in our latest blog, we’re exploring how Brexit has impacted the sector and how these challenges can be tackled head on.

How has Brexit impacted the planning sector?

Since Brexit took place, the UK planning sector has witnessed changes within policy and practice. The most prominent changes to the industry include:

  • Changes in legislation and regulations.
  • Economic uncertainty.
  • Disruption to trade and supply chains.
  • Impact on environmental protection.
  • Implications on governance.
  • Changes to immigration policies.
  • Changes surrounding funding.

Changes in legislation and regulations

The UK’s departure from the European Union has resulted in significant changes within the legislative framework which governs planning and development in the United Kingdom. 

As the UK no longer sits within the EU, this means there is no obligation to conform to the European Union’s planning and environmental directives and instead, the UK government has been able to develop its own policies and regulations. 

Post-Brexit, the UK has made changes within the legislative framework in order to adapt to a new environment outside of the EU. For example, since the UK’s departure from the EU, the Environmental Bill has been introduced in order to ensure that environmental priorities and environmental governance remain at the forefront of decision making. 

The bill includes provisions for improving air and water quality and tackling plastic pollution, as well as setting out new requirements for environmental assessment and protection when it comes to making planning decisions. 

Since Brexit, the UK government has also made amendments to the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations. Revisions to the requirements for environmental impact assessments (EIAs) in planning applications have taken place. By simplifying the EIA process, the planning sector is able to focus on developments that will likely have a significant environmental effect. This is vital for ensuring that EIAs are targeted and focus resources on projects that will have the greatest potential impact on the environment. 

The amendments to EIAs are also crucial for balancing environmental protection with sustainable development. The regulations seek to ensure that development decisions lead to more sustainable outcomes.

Economic uncertainty

Brexit has played a significant role in contributing to economic uncertainty. A report by Cambridge Econometrics, commissioned by City Hall, reveals that the average Briton was nearly £2000 worse off in 2023 as a result of Brexit. 

As a result of this economic uncertainty, fluctuations within planning and development activity have been witnessed, as developers question decisions to proceed with new projects. 
Not only has confidence surrounding planning decisions been questioned since the arrival of Brexit, the pace of development has also changed thanks to economic uncertainty. 

Delays in the submission of planning applications and longer-decision making processes are slowing down the overall planning process. 

Local planning authorities have reported an increase in the quantity of deferred planning applications as professionals reassess development plans in light of ongoing economic uncertainty. This has led to increased pressure on planning professionals who are juggling heavy workloads and the pressure of meeting tight deadlines. 

Disruption to trade and supply chains

Since Brexit took place, trade and supply chains within the construction industry have been subject to significant disruption which has affected the availability and cost of materials and labour.

Data from June 2021 showed that, along with the impact of Covid-19 and the temporary blockage of the Suez canal, Brexit resulted in an 88% cost increase for iron and 25% cost increase for steel. 

As a result of this, planning projects and development schemes have witnessed implications within their viability and delivery, with the pace of development sometimes being slowed right down. 

Impact on environmental protection

Since departing the European Union, questions have been raised about the future for environmental standards, protections within the UK planning sector and decisions that are made.

While the UK government has a commitment to maintaining high environmental standards, for example aiming to achieve net-zero carbon emissions 2050, with the absence of oversight from the EU, there have been concerns about the potential weakening of regulations and safeguards and the impact this will have on environmental protection.

Implications on governance

The future of devolution and governance arrangements within the UK have been called into questions since the arrival of Brexit. 

Devolution refers to the transfer of powers and funding from the national government to local government and is crucial for maintaining that decisions are made in connection to the people, communications and businesses that they encompass.

In relation to planning responsibilities, there have been debates surrounding the coordination and cooperation between central government, devolved administrations and local authorities for shaping and delivering on planning policies.

Changes to immigration policies

Recruitment within the planning sector has also encountered change since Brexit took place.

The UK’s departure from the EU has led to changes in immigration policies and restrictions on the movement of workers between countries that remain in the EU and the United Kingdom. 

Both the planning and construction sectors have witnessed the impact of Brexit on their recruitment success, with the restrictions caused by Brexit potentially leading to gaps within required skills and shortages of qualified and experienced Planners and professionals. 

Changes surrounding funding

Since departing the European Union, there have been significant changes in accessing EU funding and investment programmes that have previously supported infrastructure and regeneration projects in the UK. 

This loss in funding has created significant challenges for developers and local authorities hoping to finance new initiatives and planning projects.

For example, projects such as the The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Programme, which received significant funding from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund to support economic growth and infrastructure development, have witnessed restrictions in funding since Brexit. 

How the planning sector can overcome challenges caused by Brexit

In order to effectively navigate challenges that have become more prevalent since Brexit, such as implications on funding and economic uncertainty, the planning sector must adopt several strategies.
Diversifying funding sources, attracting private investment and leveraging innovative financing mechanisms is essential for sustaining funding for important planning projects. 

The planning sector must also align planning strategies with post-Brexit regulations in order to adapt to new policy frameworks and facilitate the smooth implementation of projects. 

By engaging in constructive conversation and collaborating effectively with policymakers and stakeholders, this can help to shape the policies that support measures such as sustainable development and therefore have a positive impact on economic growth. 

It is also essential for the planning sector to proactively address economic uncertainty by continuing to conduct thorough risk assessments and contingency planning. Doing so will enable Planners to anticipate obstacles ahead and adapt their strategies accordingly in order to successfully manage the challenge. 

Embracing flexibility, innovation and collaboration is of utmost importance for the UK planning sector to overcome hurdles posed by Brexit and for professionals to continue promoting sustainable and resilient development across all aspects of planning.

Planning jobs

If you’re searching for your next interim planning job, why not take a look at the latest vacancies, or simply upload your CV to be notified when a relevant position becomes available. 

Planning recruitment services

As planning recruitment specialists, we support local authorities and private sector businesses nationwide with their temporary, interim and permanent recruitment needs. 

If you’re struggling to fill a vacancy, why not get in touch with our planning specialist, Joel Khambay on 01772 954200 to see how we can help?

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Established in 2017, we’re a vibrant and progressive recruitment agency based in the heart of the North West. 

We continually reimagine the recruitment process to challenge convention and defy expectations; from creating a better recruitment experience to remodelling employee engagement, we thrive off doing things differently and turning heads along the way. 

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