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Measures unveiled to improve planning performance

by on July 16, 2015

The latest package of reforms includes a series of measures designed to improve planning decision –making as well as moves to devolve planning powers, particularly in the capital.

Ministers will:

  • Legislate to allow major infrastructure projects with an element of housing to apply through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Regime (NSIP)
  • Tighten the planning performance regime, so that local authorities making 50 per cent or fewer of decisions on time are at risk of designation
  • Legislate to extend the performance regime to minor applications, so that local authorities processing those applications too slowly are at risk of designation
  • Introduce a fast-track certificate process for establishing the principle of development for minor development proposals, and significantly tighten the ‘planning guarantee’ for minor applications
  • Introduce a dispute resolution mechanism for section 106 agreements, to speed up negotiations and allow housing starts to proceed more quickly.

Ministers have announced that the government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme for new homes, or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards.

Instead it “will keep energy efficiency standards under review, recognising that existing measures to increase energy efficiency of new buildings should be allowed time to become established”.

Environmental groups are incensed at this U-turn while builders and developers have voiced concern that this move was “short sighted” and created “uncertainty”.

Ministers have promised the devolution of greater planning powers to mayors and combined authorities as well as giving the forthcoming mayor of Manchester the power to create Development Corporations and to promote CPOs.

In London, the mayor will be handed new powers to call in planning applications of 50 homes or more and to increase the density of housing by removing the need for planning permission for upwards extensions up to the height of existing buildings.

Local authorities will be required to “proactively” plan for the delivery of Starter Homes and guidance will strengthen the presumption in favour of Starter Home developments, which it has been confirmed, will be exempted from s106 contributions.

View the Productivity Plan

Roger Milne

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