Planning Regime Changes

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, announced on 6 September, a number of proposed changes to the Planning regime in order to assist in the construction of new homes, the creation of new construction jobs and the extension of homes and businesses without the need to obtain planning consent.

The Government will be investing over £200 million in housing sites to ensure the delivery of more rented homes. Equally, a debt guarantee of up to £10 billion for the private rented sector and affordable housing is being provided to give assurance to institutional investors. The aim is to provide up to 15,000 new affordable homes, bring a further 5,000 existing empty homes back into use, and construct an additional 5,000 homes built for rent at market rates.

Aside from the above noted financial investment, the Government has proposed some further changes which are of particular interest, including:

1. The Planning Inspectorate and the Appeal Process 
The Government has proposed legislation to allow applications to be decided by the Planning Inspectorate, if the Local Planning Authority has a track record of poor performance in the speed or quality of their decisions. So, the applicant will effectively be able to go straight to the Planning Inspectorate for a decision instead of having to go through the Local Planning Authority.

In addition a new fast track planning appeal procedure is proposed for small commercial appeals as well as the creation of a major infrastructure fast track process.


2. Affordable Housing and Section 106 Agreements 
The Government is proposing to introduce legislation, to be effective in early 2013, which will allow any developer, whose site is unviable because of the number of affordable homes, to appeal with immediate effect. The Planning Inspectorate will assess how many affordable homes would need to be removed from the Section 106 Agreement for the site to be viable in current economic conditions. The existing Section 106 Agreement would then be set aside for a three year period, in favour of a new Agreement with fewer affordable homes. 

In addition to the above, the Government is also consulting on legislation to allow developers to renegotiate non-viable Section 106 Agreements entered into prior to April 2010


3. Extensions to homes and businesses 
Eric Pickles has stated that he will consult shortly to increase existing permitted development rights for extensions to homes and business premises in non-protected areas for a three-year period. It has been publicised that this will involve permitting residential extensions of up to six or eight metres depending on whether the property is terraced or detached, allowing shops and offices to develop up to their land boundary, and permitting the expansion of shops by 100 square metres and industrial units by 200 square metres all without the need to obtain planning permission.

Precise details have not yet been presented by the Government in relation to these permitted development rights, and any such details will undoubtedly contain conditions and restrictions relating to any permitted extension.

The reality is that further information is required for all elements of these planned changes before the full impact can be assessed.

Posted on: 17/09/2012

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.

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