Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Law Could Add to Delays

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Law Could Add to Delays

Article excerpt

Byline: By Neil Robson

It is more than a year since the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act received royal assent.

Key sections are now gradually coming into force and the implications of the new regime are starting to be felt.

Reforms were introduced to provide a faster, more efficient and more transparent system. However, many are unconvinced about their effectiveness.

The legislation created the concept of local development frameworks. But the huge raft of documents making up the frameworks, including strategies, statements and appraisals, is in danger of creating more confusion rather than achieving benefits. Crucially there is no sign of a speeding up or simplifying of the planning process.

A major feature of the Government's intentions was community involvement. While this is an extremely laudable aim, the resources needed to produce the various documents and the long timetable for introducing them, coupled with the need for public examination, mean the system is in danger of stalling. There is little doubt lack of resources is undermining the system. Local planning authorities are trying hard to improve performance while losing people to the private sector. This means councils are anxious to avoid registering applications, which in turn results in more pre-application discussions. Authorities are also anxious to negotiate section 106 agreements at an earlier stage so this does not affect their targets.

The position is worsened when one considers planning appeals. The Planning Inspectorate, which deals with appeals, is also under-resourced and until recently it was stating openly that there would be at least a year from registering an appeal to an informal hearing or public inquiry taking place.

This is resulting in further delay and is not achieving the Government's objective of making development happen, where appropriate. …

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