English planning authorities help secure a “swift return to economic growth” pending current reforms to the planning system.
That message was spelled out by Chancellor George Osborne and reinforced by Decentralisation minister Greg Clark in Parliament during and after the Budget speech.
The Chancellor said: “We will expect all bodies involved in planning to prioritise growth and jobs…we will introduce a new presumption in favour of sustainable development, so the default answer to development is ‘yes’. “
He said: “Cumbersome planning rules and bad regulation stand in the way of new jobs.”
Decentralisation minister Greg Clark told Parliament: “The Government's top priority in reforming the planning system is to promote sustainable economic growth and jobs. Government's clear expectation is that the answer to development and growth should wherever possible be 'yes', except where this would compromise the key sustainable development principles set out in national planning policy.”
The minister said: “Local planning authorities should press ahead without delay in preparing up-to-date development plans, and should use that opportunity to be proactive in driving and supporting the growth that this country needs.
“They should make every effort to identify and meet the housing, business and other development needs of their areas, and respond positively to wider opportunities for growth, taking full account of relevant economic signals such as land prices.
“Authorities should work together to ensure that needs and opportunities that extend beyond (or cannot be met within) their own boundaries are identified and accommodated in a sustainable way, such as housing market requirements that cover a number of areas, and the strategic infrastructure necessary to support growth.
“When deciding whether to grant planning permission, local planning authorities should support enterprise and facilitate housing, economic and other forms of sustainable development.
“They should ensure that they give appropriate weight to the need to support economic recovery, that applications that secure sustainable growth are treated favourably (consistent with policy in PPS4), and that they can give clear reasons for their decisions.”
Clark said that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government would take the principles in the statement into account when determining applications. ”In particular he will attach significant weight to the need to secure economic growth and employment”.
The minister also stressed that all local authorities should reconsider, at developers' request, existing section 106 agreements that currently render schemes unviable “and where possible modify those obligations to allow development to proceed; provided this continues to ensure that the development remains acceptable in planning terms”.
Housing minister Grant Shapps is due to write to all planning authorities urging this course of action.
23 March 2011