The long-awaited Green Paper was published in December. Four ìdaughterî papers covering compulsory purchase orders, planning fees, planning obligations and major infrastructure projects have also been produced. The overall aim of the Green Paper is to create a planning system that makes fair and transparent decisions and which considers the views of the community within a sensible timeframe, thereby tackling the current issues of complexity; lack of speed and predictability; community engagement; customer focus; and enforcement. The changes can be summarised in five key areas:
The intention is for the plan-led system to continue but with the abolition of Structure Plans, Local Plans and Unitary Plans and their replacement by Local Development Frameworks (LDFs). These will contain:
A statement of core policies setting out the local authority's vision and strategy for its whole area;
Detailed action plans for smaller local areas of change; and
A map showing action plan areas and other existing designations such as conservation areas.
It is envisaged that LDFs will be prepared over a period of months rather than years and that statements of core policies will be published annually.
Guidance and Policy
Regional Planning Guidance will be replaced with Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs) which will have statutory status, be more focused and be integrated with other regional strategies.
Planning Policy and Guidance will concentrate on important policy issues that need to be resolved at national level. As such, all PPGs and MPGs will be reviewed, making clear the distinction between national policy which should be followed and advice which can be interpreted more flexibly.
Clear policy statements are to be produced on the development of major infrastructure projects.
A new White Paper will set out in detail the Government's proposals for regional government.
Changes to Development Control - The Application Process
Local Authorities will be encouraged to provide single application points for multiple consents needed for development - a standardised form will be produced encompassing applications for planning, listed building and conservation area consents.
The number of statutory consultees will be reduced and a timetable imposed within which they must respond to the Local Authority.
User-friendly checklists for planning applications will be produced and pre-application consultation will be encouraged between both...