DPP welcomes planning extensions

Significant changes to English planning legislation came into force today, which the Government hopes will help kick-start a stalled property and construction industry.

The changes address two areas – extension to time limits on planning permissions and amendments to schemes already granted permission – and reverse some of the changes in law made in 2004.

John Francis, partner at Manchester-based independent planning consultancy DPP, said: "On the whole we welcome these changes as they should help consented schemes and particularly those that are about to expire. We are particularly pleased that the government has listened to the planning community and extended the scope of time extensions to all planning permissions, rather than just major schemes as outlined in its original consultation document.

"Furthermore the new rules will permit scheme amendments which are necessary to allow developers to respond to changing market conditions."

The new rules will allow the timescales for implementing planning permissions to be extended for all developments permitted prior to 1 October 2009, via the issue of a new permission. The application will attract further fees, but will not need to be accompanied by a Design and Access Statement or approved plans and drawings. The legislation also introduces the ability to make minor material and non-material amendments to schemes with permission already granted. Both would need to be made through an application to the local planning authority, would attract further fees with consultation undertaken in a similar manner to a standard planning application.

Francis added: "Whilst the Government is broadly on the right track with these changes, there remains some uncertainty over the detail. For example, there is no definition as to what constitutes a non-material change, and there remains considerable scope for local authorities to apply differing interpretations to minor material changes."

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