We have recently seen the draft Growth and Infrastructure Bill published for consultation. As regards planning, the Bill introduces a couple of procedural alterations aimed at speeding up planning decisions and kick-starting the delivery of approved developments.
This includes introducing a provision for applicants to be able to apply for planning permission directly to the Secretary of State in areas where the local planning authority has been designated as under performing, for example in the speed of their decision making. No details yet as to the criteria under which such local authorities will be identified.
The Bill also seeks to limit the powers of Local Planning Authorities to require information with planning applications, to that information which is reasonable, having regard to the nature and scale of the proposed development, and where the matter will be a material consideration in the determination of the planning application. Presently requirements are set out in national and locally adopted lists of validation requirements and the current system gives little scope for a local planning authority to use its discretion to waive a requirement if it feels it is not necessary in an individual case. I expect this is a change local planning authorities will be as happy to see as applicants and it should see a speeding up in the validation of planning applications.
And perhaps most controversially, the Bill would introduce the ability for developers to apply to modify or remove completely the obligation in a S106 to deliver affordable housing if this makes an approved scheme un-viable, with the provision to appeal to the SoS should the Local Planning Authority not grant the developer with a favorable decision. This reinforces the Governments pro-growth agenda and its intention to remove any obstacles to house building in particular.
Rural Solutions will be following the Bill’s progress through Parliament. Check back for updates on this and other planning news, including the eagerly awaiting draft legislation on permitted development changes.