Planning Administration

Communities and Local Government written statement – made on 29th October 2013.

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Photo of Nicholas Boles Nicholas Boles The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

We have already taken decisive action to cut unnecessary planning red tape, and to make the planning system operate more efficiently and effectively for applicants, local communities and councils. The national planning policy framework together with the new planning practice guidance website, once it is finalised, will have swept away 8,000 pages of previously impenetrable policy and guidance documents. We have also put in place new permitted development rights to make it easier to get empty and underused buildings back into public use.

In January 2013, my Department launched the planning administration theme on the red tape challenge website. We sought views on how to make the mechanics of the planning system more efficient and accessible, ensuring it is simple, clear and easy for people to use.

As I explained in my written ministerial statement of 31 January 2013, Hansard, column 52WS, this review did not involve considering any changes to planning policy. Moreover, the Government are committed to ensuring that countryside and environmental protections continue to be safeguarded and to decentralising power over planning to local councils, neighbourhoods and local residents.

I would like to inform the House that the Government are today announcing the outcome of the planning administration red tape challenge.

We received around 150 comments in response to our consultation, which we have carefully considered in developing our proposals. Of the 182 regulations on which we consulted and following a rigorous challenge process, we propose, through a prioritised and phased programme, to reduce the overall number of planning regulations to 78—a reduction of 57%.

The principal changes we propose to make to the regulations will:

consolidate the rules on development that does not require a planning application. The current permitted development regulations have been amended 17 times, and need an overhaul to make the arrangements accessible and easy to use for all; bring together recent amendments to the regulations for the planning application process, and use this opportunity to tackle unnecessary or overly burdensome requirements in the application process; merge a number of regulations in relation to major infrastructure projects and hazardous substances to simplify and clarify those consent processes; and scrap 38 redundant regulations that are no longer needed.

Alongside this programme of further simplification, we will also develop and bring forward later this year additional measures to streamline and improve the end-to-end planning process to address other issues raised through the consultation, including reducing delays in getting development underway on sites caused by planning conditions.

Implementing the Growth and Infrastructure Act

I will also be publishing shortly draft secondary legislation on the types of business and commercial projects that can use the nationally significant infrastructure regime. The Planning Act 2008 provides for a streamlined authorisation process for nationally significant infrastructure projects. Changes brought forward under the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 enabled the Secretary of State to provide developers of the most significant business and commercial projects in England with the option of having their projects considered through that process.

Under the draft regulations, any developer who wishes their project to be dealt with under the 2008 Act will need first to ask the Secretary of State for a direction. The Secretary of State must be satisfied that the project falls within one of the prescribed types of project and is nationally significant. A policy statement has been placed in the Library of the House setting out the factors that the Secretary of State will take into account when considering whether a direction should be given and how developers can apply for a direction.