Town Planning Update Autumn/Winter 2011
The Chancellor made a few significant statements affecting planning in his Autumn Statement. These may have not have been noticed but are of importance.
The Chancellor made the following statements set out in bold italics.
- Planning Obligations or Section 106 Agreements – there will be a consultation exercise on a proposal to review planning obligations made prior to April 2010 where the development involved has stalled. With the economic downturn many obligations negotiated and agreed prior to this date are now too expensive and may effectively kill the project. At present this is not a firm undertaking but is a step in the right direction.
- Proposals to bring in a 13-week maximum timescale for the majority of non-planning consents. The key word here is “majority” and it begs the question why certain consents need 13 weeks to determine in the first place.
- Proposals to put in place a more effective mechanism for appellants at planning appeals to obtain costs where a statutory consultee – e.g. the Highway Authority/ Environment Agency – has behaved unreasonably by requesting unnecessary requirements or work or by taking too long to respond. This is welcome news as the involvement of these bodies often delays the planning process, involves the applicants in unnecessary and often expensive surveys and more often that not are superfluous to the Local Planning Authority/ Planning Inspectorate in the determination of the application/appeal.
- A review into the implementation of the Habitats and Birds Directives to reduce costs and delays to development. This is welcomed as development proposals that fall in to the clutches of the Directives are often left in a form of limbo and there needs to be a better system put in place.
- A review of the (planning) appeals process to make it faster and more transparent, with the aim of bringing in proposals for implementation in the summer of 2012. This is also welcomed but a civil servant’s summer could stretch to Christmas 2012!
- Proposals to allow agricultural buildings to be used for other purposes – offices, leisure, retail space etc. A laudable statement but as always the devil will be in the detailed wording and then on the entrenched positions of some Local Planning Authorities – you may know who they are – to developments outside towns and key villages.
Prepared by Richard Ling MRTPI Richard Ling & Associates