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  6. Government sketches out 'special measures' regime

Government sketches out 'special measures' regime

Up to 180 major planning schemes a year might be eligible for determination by the Planning Inspectorate because the relevant planning authority was performing poorly, the Government has suggested.

That’s the first estimate of the potential impact of the administration’s proposals to offer developers the option of bypassing the planning authority where it has a bad track record in terms of the speed or quality of its decision making - the “special measures” regime.

That figure is in the Regulatory Impact Assessment published by the Department for Communities and Local Government to accompany the legislation, the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, which includes the measure along with other planning reforms.

These include proposals to allow renegotiation of economically unviable affordable housing requirements in section 106 agreements

The RIA also provides an indication of the sort of criteria that will be used to determine which planning authorities are judged to be failing.

The department has suggested two indicators might be used. These are, firstly, timeliness - defined as the average number of major applications decided within 13 weeks as a percentage of all major decisions, assessed over a two-year period.

The second indicator in the frame is the proportion of major decisions overturned, defined as the number of appeals involving major development that are lost, as a percentage of all major decisions made (and again assessed over a two-year period).

The document says that precise benchmarks for designating authorities as ‘poor performing’ are subject to consultation, but for illustrative purposes it used assumptions of authorities whose timeliness measure is less than 30 per cent, or whose proportion of major decisions overturned is greater than 20 per cent. 

The RIA also provides an indication of what type of development could apply to be brought within the nationally significant infrastructure regime under the Bill's proposals. These include warehousing, manufacturing and office developments, extractive industries and major tourism proposals. The focus would be on developments with a floor space of 10,000 sq m or more or where the site area is two hectares or more.

Download the impact assessment (PDF).

Roger Milne

15 November 2012