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Osborne unveils package of planning reforms

by on July 16, 2015

The government has unveiled a further package of radical planning reforms as part of a wide-ranging Productivity Plan drawn up by the Treasury and Chancellor George Osborne.

The planning measures include a threat of direct intervention by the Secretary of State over the production of local plans where local authorities are judged to be too slow and the creation of a zonal system for brownfield land involving automatic permission for housing.

In addition, ministers want a tighter planning performance regime which would mean local authorities would be judged to be underperforming if 50 per cent or fewer decisions meet statutory timetables or who fail to process minor applications in line with a significantly tighter “planning guarantee”.

Also planned is legislation to allow major infrastructure projects with an element of housing to be considered as part of the Planning Act 2008 regime and treated as nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs).

The government has announced it is scrapping the requirement on new-home developers to offset new-build carbon emissions by making a contribution to carbon reduction elsewhere.

In addition the administration is proposing to extend permitted development rights to taller mobile masts in both protected and non-protected areas in England. A call for evidence on these proposals has been published.

The Productivity Plan also confirms last week’s budget promise of a new roads fund created from all the Vehicle Excise Duty paid on cars registered from April 2017.

This fund will be invested directly in the strategic road network. A second multi-billion pound Road Investment Programme will be published for the period after 2020 before the end of the present parliament.

There has been a mixed response to the proposals, but significantly a similar reaction from planners, developers and local authorities that many of the new measures will only work if the government addresses the severe shortage of funds within local authority planning departments.

View the press release

Roger Milne

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