Developers to be freed from regulation as planning powers shift to local level: link between local and 'top down' plans needed

The Coalition has signalled plans to streamline development consents regimes for businesses in order to encourage development and stimulate economic growth. The move follows on from plans to radically shift planning powers to local authority level, while a cross-sector coalition has produced a guide to steer these new powers towards the low carbon agenda.

However, planning organisations including the The Planning Officers Society and the TCPA have agreed that there remain considerable difficulties relating to the ways in which neighbourhood plans will fit into the system, and have stressed the need for a link to national policy. In particular, they warn, urban neighbourhoods may be more difficult to define. It stressed the need to consult local people and businesses early in the plan-making process to define neighbourhood boundaries.

This move is in response to Adrian Penfold’s review of non-planning consents which in July urged action to tackle a 'complex and fragmented landscape' of non-planning consents with which businesses must comply, such as environmental permits, highways orders, and heritage consents.

Business minister Mark Prisk and planning minister Bob Neill said the Government would take immediate steps to free developers from burdensome regulation. It would also make sure that those responsible for the consents would share best practice.

Planning minister Bob Neill said: 'By cutting some of the development consents red tape identified by Adrian Penfold, we can go some way to helping British businesses thrive while at the same ensuring we continue to meet a number of goals, such as delivering a decent road network or protecting endangered species.

'It’s important we help our businesses and not hinder them with unnecessary burdens, so they can continue to be competitive and invest in communities throughout the country.'

Responding to a review of non-planning consents, led by British Land’s planning chief Adrian Penfold, Mr Neill joined business minister, Mark Prisk, to outline the key conclusions of the Government’s response:

* The Government would seek to simplify some existing consents where other new non-planning consents are proposed, to ensure the overall burden on developers does not increase;
* Ministers would consider how consents could be streamlined and simplified to make the process simpler and reduce the red tape on businesses;
* The Departments for business and local government would work with other Whitehall departments to drive forward these changes, and provide an update on implementation in the spring.

Mr Neill said: ‘By cutting some of the development consents red tape identified by Adrian Penfold, we can go some way to helping British businesses thrive while at the same ensuring we continue to meet a number of goals, such as delivering a decent road network or protecting endangered species.

‘It’s important we help our businesses and not hinder them with unnecessary burdens, so they can continue to be competitive and invest in communities throughout the country.’

A cross-sector coalition – including local authorities, private developers and environmental groups – has produced a guide to show councils how to use these new powers to tackle climate change, while enjoying the benefits renewable energy and effective adaptation provide.

Speaking on behalf of the Planning and Climate Change Coalition, Dr Hugh Ellis said: ‘While the planning system is still in a state of flux, this cannot be allowed to delay action on climate change. 80% of UK carbon emissions occur through locally based activities. Many of the impacts of climate change, such as flooding, can also play out in ways, which require local solutions.

‘Local communities are at the cutting edge of this challenge because they have responsibility for a whole range of decisions that are vital to our collective future.’ Friends of the Earth's senior campaigner, Dr Anna Watson said: ‘The coalition has stepped up to the challenge of the Big Society by voluntarily producing this guide. It will be a vital tool for any local authority and community that wants to tackle climate change and bring about a low carbon future.’

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