Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Developers Need Breathing Space to Put Deals Together; A Longer Lifetime for Planning Consents Could Prove the Trigger to Help Restore Confidence in the Development Industry, Says Mike Spurgeon of Storeys:ssp in Newcastle

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Developers Need Breathing Space to Put Deals Together; A Longer Lifetime for Planning Consents Could Prove the Trigger to Help Restore Confidence in the Development Industry, Says Mike Spurgeon of Storeys:ssp in Newcastle

Article excerpt

PLANNING Minister John Healey recently announced that the Government was to re-introduce the mechanism for extending the length of time a planning permission remains valid.

This will no doubt be welcomed by developers, particularly those who have sites with planning consent they do not currently have the means to invest in bringing forward.

At present the lifetime of a planning permission is limited to three years from the date the decision is issued by the local planning authority, or the Secretary of State if the application is granted on appeal or after a public inquiry. Applying to the local planning authority to extend the lifetime of current permissions was possible up to September 2004, when the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act introduced measures to remove this flexibility. The fear at this time, when the economy was buoyant, was that this enabled developers to participate in practices such as "land banking" and the extension of historical planning consents which were not conducive to bringing forward new development in a timely and sustainable manner.

However, in reality, even the most complex of developments are not generally put on hold without good reason.

For example, despite the uncertain economic climate, construction of the exciting Downing Plaza project on the site of the former Tyne Brewery Bottling Plant is due to start shortly - less than a year since consent was granted by Newcastle City Council.

However, not all developers are in a position to act as swiftly and raise the capital needed to implement their planning permissions within the three-year period.

Under these latest proposals, applications could again be made to extend the lifetime of the permission in order to avoid the need to re-apply if it has not been possible to commence development. In putting forward the proposals, the Government is clearly eager to avoid a backlog of lapsed planning consents from compromising its aspirations for three million more homes to be built nationwide by 2020. …

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