Development allowed! The Neighbourhood Planning Bill

Neighbourhood plans can be a nightmare, raising a whole lot of controversy, decision changes and even resignations!

We regularly follow neighbourhood planning cases to keep up with developments and changes in government responses to consultations on neighbourhood planning.

Four cases of interest were recently brought to our attention:

We also track planning cases in different areas of the country. We are always looking at the initial planning discussions, designations, referendums and current status.

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On 16th December 2016 the government responded to consultations on the Neighbourhood Planning Bill.

The DCLG has published the Government response to two consultations on measures contained in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill. These are:

1. Implementation of neighbourhood planning provisions in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill: Government response: read here>

2. Improving the use of planning conditions: Government response read here>

Here is a summary of the Bill:

  • Contains provisions to strengthen neighbourhood planning
  • The government wishes to take account of well-advanced neighbourhood plans by giving neighbourhood plans full force as soon as they have passed referendum
  • The Bill introduces a process to allow the modification of neighbourhood plans and facilitates the modification of neighbourhood areas where a neighbourhood plan has already been made in relation to that area

The government consulted on these proposed regulations covering four areas:

The government decided to put into action all four proposals as set out in the consultation.

  • The detailed procedures for modifying neighbourhood plans
  • Modifying designated neighbourhood areas where a neighbourhood plan has already been made in relation to that area
  • A requirement for local planning authorities to review their Statements of Community involvement at regular intervals
  • A requirement for local planning authorities to publish their policies on the advice and assistance they will give to neighbourhood planning groups

The main interest to house builders will be the decision by the government that significant modifications to a made neighbourhood plan may now be made through a streamlined procedure involving an examiner considering paper-based submissions.

A made neighbourhood plan will also remain in force even where the boundaries of the neighbourhood area are amended or a new neighbourhood area is designated.

In addition to that, the government has re-stated its commitment to financially resource any additional costs to local authorities that result from the new statutory obligations.

Improving the use of planning conditions

The government has responded to its consultation on improving the use of planning conditions. It was concerned that too many overly restrictive and unnecessary conditions are nearly always attached to planning permissions, with little regard given to the additional costs and delays. The government has decided to implement all its proposals, with some amendments, despite opposition from local authorities.

Pre-commencement conditions

The government said that pre-commencement conditions can only be used with the agreement of the applicant. This clarifies existing best practice already articulated in the Planning Practice Guidance. By introducing a requirement for the local authority to seek the agreement of the applicant the government is placing best-practice on a statutory footing.

The government has rejected the proposal of a dispute resolution service as an alternative. It concluded that this would be ineffective as local authorities might only rely on this to avoid meaningful engagement early in the application process.

Default period after which an applicant’s agreement would be deemed to be given

If the local authority communicates to the applicant its intention to impose a pre-commencement condition, a set period of time needs to be established to allow the applicant to agree to that proposed pre-commencement condition. The government will set the default period to 10 working days.

Prohibiting specific types of planning conditions

The government has decided that six types of conditions (referred to in Table 1 of the consultation document) will be prohibited by legislation. These conditions do not meet the six policy tests set out in paragraph 206 of the NPPF. These are:

1. Conditions which unreasonably impact on the deliverability of a development – e.g. disproportionate financial burden;

2. Conditions which reserve outline application details;

3. Conditions which require the development to be carried out in its entirety;

4. Conditions which duplicate a requirement for compliance with other regulatory requirements – e.g. building regulations;

5. Conditions requiring land to be given up;

6. Positively worded conditions requiring payment of money or other consideration.

There are various exceptions and exemptions under these six headings that members will need to be aware of.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers, clients and friends a Happy Christmas and much success in the New Year.

Any feedback you may have on our articles is always welcome. We value opinions, updates and appreciate you sharing our content.

Here is a little recap of our articles from 2016…

News bulletin: Government’s crisis plan delayed! Read more>

The white paper that will tackle the housing crisis and give details on the one million new homes that will be built by 2020 has been delayed. The much- anticipated document won’t be under the Christmas tree this year. Read more>

The RTPI’s 16 ways to address the housing crisis. Read more>

From start to finish – How quickly do large-scale housing sites deliver? Read more>

Hammond on housing – The Autumn Statement Summary Read more>

10 top tips about the Community Infrastructure Levy Read more>

The examination of local planning Read more>

What does Sadiq Khan’s victory mean for housing in London? Read more>

Let’s get Britain building Read more>

‘Step into my office’ – with Jo Hanslip Read more>

Sadiq Khan reveals a city for all Londoners Read more>

The Heathrow Expansion Read more>

Look out for our housing predictions for 2017 coming soon!

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