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A Five Billion Pound National Disgrace

Having watched the progressive degradation of Government policy on planning and transport in England over the past 15 years, I thought I was beyond being shocked. But a quick analysis of the Government announcement on its five billion quid Housing Infrastructure Fund left me speechless. Well, almost...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 04 February 2018

Transformational Dreams

Thanks to a quirky coincidence, I was in a small town in the north of England when Transport for the North launched its Strategic Transport Plan, setting out its aspirations for what it grandly called transformational growth over the next third of a century. Well, quite a lot of the north is in need...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 21 January 2018

An Egregious Future

Few elephants live in this country and most of those that do live in zoos. So conservation of them is unlikely to figure in any 25-year environment strategy, which is a pity, as the Plan published by the Government yesterday must have had two very large pachyderms roaming silently around the launch ...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 12 January 2018

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New Bill will limit council powers to impose conditions

Added on 09 September 2016

Developers are to be given the power to refuse to accept many pre-commencement conditions in planning consents as part of the new Neighbourhood Planning Bill.

The move was originally announced by the Treasury in the Budget and the Bill will include powers in England to weaken local planning authorities’ ability to impose conditions, along with changes to compulsory purchase and neighbourhood plans. The Bill proposes a simplification of the neighbourhood plan revision process and a simpler CPO process.

“The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that we need to build more homes and this Bill is the first of a number of measures to deliver on that,” said planning minister Gavin Barwell.

DCLG has also issued consultation papers on planning conditions, neighbourhood plans and CPOs. The conditions paper says pre-commencement conditions should only be used in pursuit of National Planning Policy Framework requirements but councils would be able to “propose” conditions in relation to archaeology or wildlife, etc..

But applicants would be able to challenge any conditions they consider unnecessary, for instance, where they are capable of being discharged later.

So council planners, already under huge strain, would be burdened with the necessity of getting written agreement of developers to pre-commencement conditions. Although this is a consultation, the Government is already seeking the powers in the new Bill.

The Royal Town Planning Institute welcomed the Bill and the measures to speed up planning.

“The key issue in development management is to deliver excellent outcomes through an efficient process, which needs to work for all applicants and for current and future residents of communities,” it said. “We support the Government in seeking to address the issue of conditions but care should be taken to ensure there are no unintended consequences of change. We welcome the releasing of the consultation alongside the Bill to streamline the process.”

The Government has, however, not yet proceeded with reforms to the National Infrastructure Commission or privatization of the Land Registry.

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