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RTPI response to the publication of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill

18 October 2012

Colin HaylockColin Haylock, President of the RTPI, said: "We welcome proposals in the bill to make it easier and quicker to deliver important national infrastructure which is crucial to sustainable development and economic growth. But it is vital that any new process to fast track large commercial and retail development is adequately resourced."

Pictured right: Colin Haylock.

The Growth and Infrastructure Bill can be downloaded here.

DCLG's news release can be read here.

DCLG background notes to the Bill are here.

Specific announcements in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill

Local Planning Authorities' (LPA) performance

The Government will consult on the criteria that will be used for judging LPA performance, and it is difficult to anticipate its impact until this has been agreed but the RTPI hopes that the provision will be used rarely.

There are several factors that affect planning department's performance. The RTPI has recently said:

"Planning for sustainable development relies on adequately resourced planning departments, a vision for the area expressed in well written policies, engaged and knowledgeable councillors, good applications, and timely responses on planning applications from third parties.

Deficiencies in any one of these may result in a drop in performance - whether measured by time taken or quality of decisions. The RTPI is keen to see that if any council is judged to be underperforming, yet to be defined by government, that targeted and appropriate support enables a return decision-making to local democratic control as quickly as possible."

Special Parliamentary Procedure (SPP)

Special Parliamentary Procedure has proved to be bureaucratic, and the RTPI welcomes the reforms. The first application to go through the 2008 procedure has now been embroiled in the procedure for almost as long as the original application.

Awarding of costs

The RTPI is certain that any such measures will be used judiciously and reasonably.

Renegotiation of Section 106

The RTPI remains concerned that legislation around renegotiation of section 106 agreements between local authorities and developers will result in delay. Councils across the country are currently renegotiating with developers on the level of section 106 agreements where sites are stalled. Further legislation runs the risk of developers delaying development in the hope of renegotiating their contractually contributions downwards.

Our paper on Section 106 agreements can be downloaded here.

Penfold review measures

The Penfold Review made a number of recommendations to bring non-planning regimes in line with the planning system. The RTPI has long argued for the implementation of the Penfold Review's recommendation and we welcome the inclusion in the Bill of the four following measures:

  • Town or village green registration. The measures to be included in the Bill will prevent the possible registration of a town or village green from interfering with developments either approved or envisaged under the planning system. It will not affect already registered town or village greens, all of which will continue to be protected.
  • The clauses for rights of way orders remove the current restriction on requests for the orders to be made only after planning permission is granted.
  • The measures for stopping up orders (closing roads) are similar to the approach being taken with rights of way. These changes will allow for stopping up of roads and planning applications to run concurrently.
  • The final measure deals with repealing the redundant section 14 of the Energy Act 1976. The section implemented two Council Directives that have since been repealed and therefore no consultation was needed.

Measures not in the Bill

Permitted development

The Bill does not contain measures relating to Permitted Development (house extensions and change of use from commercial to residential use).

Review of extant planning guidance

The RTPI has been pressing for planning guidance to be reviewed. Lord Matthew Taylor will lead a panel reviewing extant planning guidance following the publication of the National Planning Policy Forum. Trudi Elliott, Chief Executive of the RTPI, is on the panel in a personal capacity.

Progress of a Bill

Progress of a Bill introduced in the House of Commons

The first reading of the Bill took place today (18 October). The second reading, where there is for the first time an opportunity to debate the main principles of the Bill, normally takes place within two weeks.