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Government proposals to simplify planning system ill-thought out

23 October 2009

The Royal Town Planning Institute has responded to the Government's consultation on \"Improving Permitted Development\", which aims to simplify the planning process for smaller scale applications. In its response, the Institute has warned that whilst it supports the aim of the reforms, the current proposals are complicated and imprecise, and may indeed lead to more uncertainty and confusion rather than less.

Matt Thomson, Acting Director Policy & Partnerships, RTPI said:

\"The Government is right to try to reduce the administrative burden on councils and developers for small scale developments that have low impacts. However, the latest proposals for small scale non-domestic developments suggest that the Government has not thought through the implications.

\"The new regulations are complicated, and do not provide the clarity that applicants and planners need, despite the lessons learnt from the 2008 changes to householder consents.Like the householder permitted development changes introduced last year, the new regulations will shift rather than reduce the workload of planning officers and will place further burdens on planning enforcement within local authorities. Enforcement is the basis of quality control for planning, and is crucial to the credibility of of the system. The lack of clarity and consistency of definitions in the consultation will only serve to undermine public confidence in planning.

\"The new regulations are not always expressed clearly, especially in regard to extensions allowed to schools and universities .It appears that the potential negative impact of extensions to shops and business premises on neighbouring properties and and the character of areas has not been taken into account. A reduced type of planning permission, known as 'prior approval' is introduced for some developments when it is well known that this kind of application already causes confusion where it is used in the planning system in respect of other uses.

\"There is also a lack of joined up thinking: while Government policy rightly highlights tackling climate change as a key priority for the planning system, the proposal to allow air conditioning units to be installed without planning permission runs completely contrary to this agenda - not to mention the visual impact and increase in noise pollution that a proliferation of such units across the country would entail.

\"We are not convinced that these plans will have a significant impact on reducing the burden on small businesses. In fact the suggested changes would make the system more complicated not less which is why we cannot support these proposals in their current form.\"

RTPI response to Improving Permitted Development Consultation

The full response to this consultation can be found at: RTPI-Improving-permitted-development-response.pdf