Further moves to simplify the planning system and make it more
accessible to people in communities were set out today by Planning
Minister Greg Clark.
The package of measures includes proposals to make it easier to
re-use some existing buildings without needing planning permission
including the so-called 'meanwhile' use of vacant
commercial buildings; streamlining the amount of paperwork needed
for a planning application; speeding up planning appeal decisions;
reducing the volume of planning guidance; and ensuring planning
departments are properly resourced to assess applications promptly
and efficiently, reducing the burden on council
The Government has already taken steps to improve the planning
system through the National Planning Policy Framework and the
Localism Act, which are already delivering results.
For example, the rate at which councils are putting in place a
local plan is increasing in comparison to the average over the
previous seven years and over 100 local authorities are now working
with front-runner communities on neighbourhood planning.
Today's proposals will help to maintain the rapid pace of
reform by removing unnecessary barriers, streamlining paperwork,
and supporting swifter decision making.
Greg Clark said:
"Our reforms to the planning system are making it simpler,
clearer and more accessible to people in communities.
"Following the simplification of the national planning
policy in the National Planning Policy Framework, these proposed
changes streamline the process of applying for planning
"Our aim is to have a system that applicants and members of
communities can be confident will give a reliable, swift and fair
The measures include:
Making it easier to re-use existing agricultural, retail and
commercial buildings, such as offices and warehouses, without the
need to submit a planning application, supporting small business
growth. A consultation is being published on changes to the Use
Classes Order, which determines the flexibility with which such
buildings can be re-used. The consultation also proposes allowing
so called 'meanwhile' or temporary uses of certain
buildings to open up premises to new businesses and to bring
redundant buildings back into use, in line with recommendations in
the Portas Review.
Cutting out unnecessary information in the application process
to make the system clearer, and easier to use, without undermining
the ability for councils to make well-informed decisions. A
consultation setting out proposals is being published today.
Following the approach of the National Planning Policy
Framework in distilling 1,000 pages of policy into around 50, the
next challenge is to review around 6,000 pages of supporting
planning guidance. Details of the approach to be taken will be
Speeding up the process for determining planning appeals -
proposals on shortening and streamlining the process will be
published for consultation later this year.
Uprating local councils' planning fees in line with
inflation thereby reducing the burden on ordinary council
taxpayers, who otherwise end up subsidising developers. Planning
fees are set by Government and have not been increased since
Ensuring councils whose planning decisions are consistent with
an up to date local plan are not ordinarily liable for costs if
their decision is appealed.
Making technical changes to the operation of the Community
Infrastructure Levy including ensuring that developers are not
charged the levy twice, on the same development, if they amend
existing planning consent.
Extending the funding to April 2013 to the four organisations
providing advice and support to communities leading the way on
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