Cross-industry panel to ‘simplify and accelerate’ local planning processes

Planning minister Brandon Lewis launched yesterday (15 September) a panel of experts to help streamline local planning processes by cutting down on the amount of time councils take to secure them.

The eight-person group will consider how to simplify the plan-making process in order to provide greater assurances within communities in regards to regional housebuilding and infrastructure developments, as well as speed up the process of getting developers on site.

Lewis said: “Our planning reforms have caught the imagination of communities across the country, allowing them to bring forward developments that are a real benefit to local people. However, while many have seized this opportunity, it’s fair to say the process of getting local plans in place can sometimes be lengthy and complicated.

“That’s why we’ve brought together this panel of experts to help look at ways to streamline the process. Their first-class advice will help councils push on and deliver the homes and infrastructure that their communities need.”

Its members include chair John Rhodes, of planning consultants Quod; Adrian Penfold, from developers British Land; Richard Harwood QC, from legal firm 39 Essex Chambers; Cllr Toby Elliott, from Swindon Borough Council; Keith Holland, retired senior planning inspector; Liz Peace, formerly of the British Property Foundation; John Howell MP, member for Henley; and Derek Stebbing, local authority plans manager for Chelmsford City Council.

They all hail from a range of different backgrounds so as to cover all relevant aspects of local plan-making, since it involves a “wide range of considerations”. The panel is expected to report back in the new year.

The local plans for an area sets the rules for how the region will develop over time, forming the overall development plan for the site alongside neighbourhood plans.

They seek to strengthen the voice of communities by giving them a say over how the area will develop from the amount of housing needed to help the region thrive.

Although a total of 216 local plans have been adopted so far, this represents less than two thirds of the total amount of councils that have published plans to date.

If councils do not produce local plans by 2017, the government will intervene to arrange for one to be written in consultation with local residents.


Shar Roselman   12/10/2015 at 13:28

Our Town Council notes that there is no representative from Town and Parish Councils sitting on the Cross Industry Panel. As Neighbourhood Plans are now a significant part of the planning process, this omission is a shame. Our Town Council is proposing the first Neighbourhood Plan that goes well beyond the requirements of the Core Strategy and Local Plan to delivery homes, and we feel we should be given a voice in considering planning reforms to speed up planning processes.

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