On the 25th June government published the “Business and Planning Bill.” This aims to relax certain planning (alongside other licensing financial and (even) HGV) regulations to help breathe some life into the economy.
Whilst the only permanent planning change proposed is, for many, pretty insignificant and will allow Planning Inspectors to implement “flexible deployment” when considering how best to hear/consider a planning appeal – written representations, hearings or local inquiries – or a mix of all three, there are temporary measures proposed run more widely.
These include the introduction of a fast-track application process for varying planning conditions and construction site working hours (days, hours, what is required?) and the extension of some planning permission expiration periods applicable to permissions due to expire shortly and those which have expired already.
For permissions which have expired and were subject to an EIA, further environmental approvals will be required. Finally, the ability to allow an “electronic inspection” of the London Plan will be introduced.
This Bill is legislation playing catch-up to several recent Ministerial pronouncements and it is only at its first stage of passage through the Houses of Parliament. All stages of the Bill have been scheduled for debate in the House of Commons on 29th June. Thereafter it is pinged back and forth with the House of Lords (1st, 2nd and 3rd readings) before being given Royal Asset and introduced to us as The Business and Planning Act 2020 (no date given as yet!).
This brief foray for Planning into the Houses of Parliament will not be solitary as the Secretary of State yesterday, when under fire for his determining role in a Westferry planning application, reminded us from the Despath Box, that he considers a wholescale reform of the planning system is required and that a new Planning Bill will be brought forward “in weeks.”