The Government's Planning White Paper could present some challenges for holders of long term option and promotion agreements if one of the main proposals is implemented.

Many such agreements have been put in place based on the current system, whereby sites are promoted for allocation as part of the local plan process, then are subject to planning applications (sometimes before formal adoption of the allocation, but often when a relevant draft policy has been published). The allocation process often triggers obligations to pay further sums to landowners or extensions to option and promotion periods, while an outline planning permission will usually trigger an obligation to sell site or serve a valuation notice as the first step in exercising  a market value option.

The White Paper proposes that a streamlined Local Plan system may result in the deemed grant of an outline planning permission for any site in a "Growth Zone" without a specific site allocation. If implemented, current agreements will need to be reviewed carefully and the implications considered carefully by both parties. While superficially an accelerated outline planning permission may look like good news, it is clear that a lot of work (any many approvals) will be needed before a site is ready to develop or come to the market, so it may be in neither party's interest to value the site or sell it at this stage.