Will new measures improve planning performance?

The Government’s Productivity Plan included a series a new measures designed to improve planning performance, and in his latest blog Development Specialist Richard Carra looks at whether they will work.

Reforms

Richard Carr's planning permission image

Will new measures improve the planning system?

The reforms will aim to improve the speed of planning decisions as well as moves to devolve planning powers, especially in the capital.

According to the reforms, ministers will:

  • Legislate to allow major infrastructure projects with an element of housing to apply through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Regime (NSIP)
  • Tighten the planning performance regime, so that local authorities making 50 per cent or fewer of decisions on time are at risk of designation
  • Legislate to extend the performance regime to minor applications, so that local authorities processing those applications too slowly are at risk of designation
  • Introduce a fast-track certificate process for establishing the principle of development for minor development proposals, and significantly tighten the ‘planning guarantee’ for minor applications
  • Introduce a dispute resolution mechanism for section 106 agreements, to speed up negotiations and allow housing starts to proceed more quickly.

Costs

Richard Carr is pleased to see such measures taken and believes they will improve planning performance. However, he still feels more needs to be done to make the market more attractive for developers.

Taxes such as Community Infrastructure Levy and the aforementioned s106 agreements, he believes are outdated and negatively affect the industry.

In a positive move, the s106 contributions have been dropped from Stater Home developments, whilst local authorities will be required to ‘proactively’ plan for the delivery of such developments.

Devolution

Under the reforms mayors will be given greater planning powers. For example, the London mayor will be handed new powers to call in planning applications of 50 homes or more and to increase the density of housing by removing the need for planning permission for upwards extensions to the height of existing building.

Richard Carr believes that the new measures aren’t aggressive enough and that if the Government are really serious then they need to scrap all S106 and CIL payments for a 24 month period to really get the engine revving!