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Member briefing - Written Ministerial Statement on Planning Simplification Measures

Date: 04/07/12

Written Ministerial Statement on Planning Simplification Measures

Planning Minister Greg Clark yesterday made a Written Statement to parliament on Planning Simplification Measures. A copy of the statement is attached.

The main points included in the Statement were:

  • The announcement of further Government funding for the four organisations providing support for the front runner communities developing neighbourhood plans;

  • Publication of a consultation paper on further proposals for allowing additional flexibilities under the Use Classes Order. The main proposal of interest to house builders is to introduce a permitted development right to allow hotels to be converted to residential use. The consultation document can be downloaded here. Alongside the Ministerial Statement DCLG has also published its response to its earlier proposals for changing the Use Classes Order to make it easier to convert commercial and industrial premises to residential use. It has concluded that facilitating such changes of use can best be achieved by providing clear support for them in new wording to be added to the NPPF. The Government response can be read here

  • A commitment to distil the more than 6,000 pages of current planning guidance into a much more concise and usable body of guidance (consistent with the reduction of all previous policy into the NPPF). More details of the Government’s proposed approach will be announced shortly.

  • The launch of a consultation on proposals for making the information requirements for planning applications clearer, simpler and more proportionate. The consultation document can be downloaded here;

  • An announcement that the Government will consult later this year on proposals to shorten and streamline the appeals process;

  • The amendment of the declaration on the standard planning application form to ask applicants to confirm that the information provided is, to the best of their knowledge, truthful and accurate;

  • Technical amendments to the regulations for the operation of CIL will be introduced in the autumn;

  • Announcement of a “one-off adjustment” to up-rate planning fees in line with inflation, amounting to around 15% since 2008. The Government intends to introduce new fee regulations so that this change in fees comes into force in the autumn;

  • Confirmation that later in the year the Government will publish a consultation paper on proposals to underpin a “planning guarantee” that it should take no longer than 12 months to determine any application, including any appeal;

  • The launch of a consultation on proposals to provide a more effective mechanism for applicants to obtain an award of costs if there has been an appeal against refusal of planning permission where a statutory consultee has acted unreasonably. The suggested changes would also, however, make clear that appellants may be at risk of having costs awarded against them if the evidence on which they have based their appeal is found to be manifestly untrue. The consultation document can be downloaded here;

Ministers regard this set of measures as an important second wave of planning reform to support their objective of making planning simpler, more accessible and better able to support sustainable development.

From the HBF perspective, the announcement on planning fees is significant. We argued strongly in response to earlier Government proposals to allow planning fees to be set locally that such a system was likely to lead to confusion and inconsistency, so delaying rather facilitating development. It was clear, however, that there would be some increase in costs, so the decision to allow a national, across the board inflation-based increase in fees is in the circumstances a good outcome. We should not necessarily assume, however, that this will be the end of pressure to consider locally set fees and will continue to keep an eye on this area.

We will work with members in the normal way to formulate HBF responses to the three consultations.

John Slaughter
Director of External Affairs


Official Ministerial Statement

Member briefing - Written Ministerial Statement on Planning Simplification Measures