MPs to debate streamlined planning measures

The Neighbourhood Planning Bill, put to Parliament following the summer recess, has been broadly welcomed.

The Bill, introduced yesterday, is designed to speed up and strengthen the neighbourhood planning process by “simplifying how plans can be revised as local circumstances change and ensure that plans come into force sooner once approved by local people.”

Gavin Barwell, housing and planning minister, said: “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.

“We have already built more than 900,000 homes since 2010 and now this Bill will help speed up delivery of the further new homes our country needs and ensure our foot is still firmly on the pedal.

“We’re also going further than ever before to speed up neighbourhood planning which puts power in the hands of local people to decide where development gets built.”

There will also be a simplifying of the compulsory purchase order process, with measures to “clarify the process which is currently based on a patchwork of statute and case law and make the system fairer for all parties.”

Further measures “will ensure that planning conditions which require developers to take action before work starts are only used where strictly necessary.”

Dan Mitchell, partner at Barton Willmore in Manchester, said: “We welcome the Government’s intention to introduce an improved Neighbourhood Planning process that can ultimately lead to land being released for development. There are some good examples of where Neighbourhood Plans have helped deliver much needed sites for business and new homes. However, there are also far too many examples of where Neighbourhood Plans have been advanced as a mechanism by communities to seek to stall other development proposals from coming forward, or used negatively to seek to limit development in one particular area. There needs to be a rigorous process of scrutiny to ensure that a NP aligns with the overall development strategy in a district and that it will make a positive contribution to providing land for housing.

“We also note that the vast majority of NPs are in the ‘shire’ areas, often produced by Parish Councils. It will be interesting to see how Government encourages more communities in urban areas to think about their built environment needs.”

Phil Grant, principal planner at HOW Planning, said: “Efforts in the Bill to further streamline the use of planning conditions are welcomed. Excessive pre-commencement conditions can sometimes delay the delivery of important new development and any additional controls that can be put in place to ensure conditions are only used where absolutely necessary will benefit many of our clients.”

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “It is great to see this Bill introduced to Parliament so soon after recess, and to see government prioritising measures that will bring forward more development.

“The measures to improve the CPO system are particularly important as they will help to bring about infrastructure projects more quickly and efficiently, which are crucial for attracting inward investment and acting as a catalyst for regeneration schemes.

“Our industry is an important cornerstone of the economy, creating jobs, attracting investment, and delivering the homes and workplaces that are crucial to our everyday lives. The provisions laid out in the Bill should go some way towards helping our industry continue to deliver these things, and we are pleased that it is now getting underway.”

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