Overhaul of planning system to make it simpler and quicker
The Government has announced further changes to the planning system to make it simpler and quicker to use.
The measures include making it easier to re-use some existing buildings without the need for planning permission. This would include the ‘meanwhile’ use of vacant commercial premises for purposes such as helping start-up businesses.
There are also several measures to speed up planning decisions and streamline the amount of paperwork required.
A Government statement highlights the main proposals which include:
- Making it easier to re-use existing agricultural, retail and commercial buildings, such as offices and warehouses, without the need to submit a planning application, supporting small business growth. A consultation is being published on changes to the Use Classes Order, which determines the flexibility with which such buildings can be re-used. The consultation also proposes allowing so called 'meanwhile' or temporary uses of certain buildings to open up premises to new businesses and to bring redundant buildings back into use, in line with recommendations in the Portas Review.
- Cutting out unnecessary information in the application process to make the system clearer, and easier to use, without undermining the ability of councils to make well-informed decisions.
- Following the approach of the National Planning Policy Framework in distilling 1,000 pages of policy into around 50, the next challenge is to review around 6,000 pages of supporting planning guidance.
- Speeding up the process for determining planning appeals - proposals on shortening and streamlining the process will be published for consultation later this year.
- Uprating local councils' planning fees in line with inflation thereby reducing the burden on ordinary council taxpayers, who otherwise end up subsidising developers. Planning fees are set by Government and have not been increased since 2008.
- Ensuring councils whose planning decisions are consistent with an up to date local plan are not ordinarily liable for costs if their decision is appealed.
- Making technical changes to the operation of the Community Infrastructure Levy including ensuring that developers are not charged the levy twice, on the same development, if they amend existing planning consent.
- Extending the funding to April 2013 to the four organisations providing advice and support to communities leading the way on neighbourhood planning.
Planning Minister Greg Clark said: "Following the simplification of the national planning policy in the National Planning Policy Framework, these proposed changes streamline the process of applying for planning permission.
"Our aim is to have a system that applicants and members of communities can be confident will give a reliable, swift and fair outcome."
The proposals are now subject to public consultation. We shall keep clients informed of developments.