The Department for Communities and Local Government has spelled out what sort of major development will require pre-application discussions, as well as suggesting that within five years planning authorities will be dealing with around 2,000 neighbourhood plans.
A series of impact assessments has been published as MPs start reviewing the Localism Bill which sets out to hand more control of the land-use planning regime to communities.
This documentation indicated that obligatory pre-application discussions will be expected for residential schemes where the number of units to be constructed is 200 or more or where the application site area is four hectares or more.
In the case of non-residential major schemes the relevant threshold is 2ha or alternatively a floor space of 10,000 square metres or more.
The department assumes that this new requirement will apply to around 3,000 applications a year and cost the developer between £2,000 and £10,000 per proposal.
On neighbourhood development plans (NDPs), the relevant assessment estimates that around 75% of plans will be small scale, costing from on average £17,000 to set up, and that there will be nearly 2,000 of them within five years.
The department has explained a little more about how the new plans will fit with the existing development plan regime. NDPs are to be in general conformity with the 'strategic elements' of the development plan, and this phrase will be defined in the promised national planning policy framework.
Angus Walker, the partner at law firm Bircham Dyson Bell whose regular planning blog provides a legal commentary on these issues, has pointed out that an NDP “can be thrown out by the local authority if it conflicts with these strategic elements, or national policy, or legal requirements”.
3 February 2011