A Streamlined Planning Process
On 21 January 2013 the Government announced a Consultation on proposals to streamline the planning system.
These proposals include:
1.) Design and Access Statements
Design and Access Statements will only be required for planning applications for "major development". The term "major development" includes applications such as residential development of 10 or more dwellings or buildings of 1,000 square metres or more. However, there will be a lower threshold for development in conservation areas and World Heritage Sites and applications for listed building consent will still require a Design and Access Statement.
The content of Design and Access Statements will also be reduced, removing requirements such as the need to explain specific design principles or to provide details of maintenance in respect of access, resulting in a statement that is not as long, repetitive and disproportionate to the development proposed.
2.) Validation Stage of a Planning Application
Requests for information by Local Authorities to accompany planning applications should be reasonable having regard to the nature and scale of the proposed development and should relate to matters that will be a material consideration in the determination of the application.
The right for the applicant to appeal information requests is also to be reinstated.
3.) Decision Notices
The requirement to provide a summary of reasons for approval and a summary of policies and proposals relevant to a decision will no longer be required on a Decision Notice. There will still be a duty to provide reasons for each condition proposed as well as reasons for refusal.
The consultation runs until 4 March 2013.
The Planning Minister, Nick Boles, has said that the changes would cut out unnecessary paperwork, bureaucracy and duplication.
The Government has also announced that further revised proposals are expected for the conversion of empty and under-used commercial space into residential use.
The Government has clearly prioritised the simplification and streamlining of the planning process as one of its key measures in stimulating development as evidenced by the number of Consultations that have taken place over the past few years. However, there remain broader concerns regarding housing targets and the conflicts between national and local planning policy which perhaps require more attention than the mechanics of the planning process.
This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.