The Growth and Infrastructure Bill was introduced by the Government in 2012 with a focus on kick-starting economic growth particularly through increased residential development alongside, and complementary to, the National Planning Policy Framework.
The government has stated that the Growth and Infrastructure Act is ‘introducing a comprehensive series of practical measures to reduce confusing and overlapping red tape that delays and discourages business investment, housing development, new infrastructure and job creation.’
The Bill made its way through Parliament with minor alterations and became an Act on the 25th April 2013.
Measures affecting the industry
The Act limits the amount of information which a local authority can demand with planning applications to ensure that it is proportionate to the nature and scale of the development.
There are also measures which remove the need for the Secretary of State to approve Local Development Orders and enable the Secretary of State to grant consent to local authorities for the disposal of land help for planning purposes so consent will not have to be sought on an individual basis.
By-passing poorly performing local authorities
Developers will be able to submit planning applications directly to PINS where the local authority in question has been ‘designated’ as poorly performing. Local authorities will be ‘designated’ where they have a record of ‘consistently poor performance in the speed or quality of its decisions’ though the specific definition of poor performance has not been introduced yet.
Renegotiating Section 106 agreements
Developers will be able to renegotiate Section 106 agreements relating to affordable housing obligations with the local planning authority in order to make schemes viable. This power will be in place for three years and will allow for both modification and discharge of the affordable housing elements of a s106 agreement. Where the local planning authority does not agree with the developer’s revised proposal the Act also provides a right of appeal to the Secretary of State. These new procedures do not replace existing powers to renegotiate s106 agreements on a voluntary basis. The power can be extended for a further period by government in the future.
Town and Village Greens
The Act removes the overlapping consent process from the registration system which conflicts with the planning system. This means that applications to register town and village greens will not be possible once a ‘trigger event’ has taken place; these trigger events include where a planning application has been made or where a draft or final development plan identifies the land for possible development.
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