Consultation on the Housing and Planning Bill 24Feb2016

On the 18th February 2016, a lengthy consultation document was published which set out the Government’s proposed approach to implementing a number of planning provisions in the Housing and Planning Bill.

The consultation seeks views on the proposed approach to implementing the planning provisions in the Housing and Planning Bill, and some other planning measures. It covers the following areas:

·         Changes to planning application fees

·         Permission in principle

·         Brownfield register

·         Small sites register

·         Neighbourhood planning

·         Local plans

·         Expanding the planning performance regime

·         Testing competition in the processing of planning applications

·         Information about financial benefits

·         Section 106 dispute resolution

·         Permitted development rights for state-funded schools

·         Changes to statutory consultation on planning applications

The government are seeking views of all parties with an interest in the proposals, so that relevant views and evidence can be taken into account in deciding the way forward. The consultation will run from 18 February until 15 April 2016. Once the consultation has ended, a summary of responses to each of the consultations contained within this document will be published.

This consultation is seeking views on the proposed approach to implementation of measures in the Housing and Planning Bill, and some other planning measures. Responses to the consultation will inform the detail of the secondary legislation which will be prepared once the Bill gains Royal Assent.

Below, we have set out a brief summary of some of the more changes proposed in the consultation document.

 Planning Fee Increases

The government plan to increase planning fees, in a way which is linked to both inflation and performance. In essence, well-performing councils would be allowed to increase fees. One approach discussed would be to limit increases to those authorities that are in the top 75% of performance for both the speed and quality of their decisions.

Another potential option would be to provide applicants with a choice of fast track service, in return for a proportionate fee. However, these proposals would need to maintain the minimum standards for notification and representations set out in legislation, while offering decisions in less time than the current statutory periods.

'Permission in principle' for major applications

The Housing and Planning Bill, currently being considered by Parliament, introduces a new ‘permission in principle’ route for obtaining planning permission. This is designed to separate decision making on ‘in principle’ issues (such as location and land use) from matters of technical detail (such as what the buildings will look like).

The consultation suggests that permission in principle could be extended to major schemes. The government had previously suggested that the permission in principle application route would be limited to minor housing schemes involving the creation of fewer than ten units.

Section 106 dispute resolution mechanism 

The government are introducing a dispute resolution mechanism for section 106 agreements through the Housing and Planning Bill. The dispute resolution process will potentially apply to any planning application where the local planning authority would be likely to grant planning permission where there are unresolved issues relating to section 106 obligations. It would be available in a broad range of cases, including small cases with simple s106 planning obligations. This process is intended to be provided by a body on behalf of the Secretary of State.

The consultation also proposes that the cost of the dispute mechanism process should be shared equally between the local planning authority and the applicant, with the ability to award costs against a party where one side has acted unreasonably.

Expansion of permitted development rights for state-funded schools

The government is committed to opening at least 500 new state-funded free schools during this Parliament, which could provide up to 270,000 new school places.

Existing permitted development rights allow certain buildings to change use to a state-funded school, allow for extensions to be added to existing schools, and allow the temporary use of buildings as state-funded schools for up to one academic year, without the need to apply for planning permission. However, the consultation proposes a number of new and extended permitted development rights.

The proposals are to:

  • Extend from one to two academic years the existing temporary right to use any property within the use classes for a state-funded school;
  • Increase from 100 m2 to 250 m2, the threshold for extensions to existing school buildings;
  • Allow temporary buildings to be erected for up to three years on cleared sites, where, had a building not been demolished, the existing permitted development right for permanent change of use of a building to a state funded school would have applied.


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