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Government announces expert panel to help streamline local planning process (16 September 2015)

Date: 16/09/2015
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, Government announces expert panel to help streamline local planning process

The government has announced that local planning processes are to be streamlined using a panel of eight experts.

The panel will consider how the local plan-making process can be simplified – with the aim of reducing the amount of time it takes for local authorities to get plans for new homes and infrastructure into place.

The panel was announced on Tuesday (15/09/15) by Planning Minister Brandon Lewis,

The government says the panel comprises a multi-skilled group of experts from a range of backgrounds – including local authorities, developers, the legal industry and the Planning Inspectorate.

It is hoped that simplifying the local planning process will provide greater certainty to communities regarding plans for new homes and infrastructure in their area – as well as speeding up the planning process, so developers can get on site more quickly.

The government launched a radical reform of the planning system in 2012 – reducing the amount of planning policy from more than 1,000 pages to just 52 pages and putting Local Plans at the heart of the system.

In total, 276 local authorities have published Local Plans to date – with 216 local plans adopted so far.

However, that means more than a third of local planning authorities have yet to adopt plans.

Launching the new panel, Planning Minister Brandon 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.

“Local Plans give communities more say in how their area will develop –
from the amount of housing they need to the infrastructure that has to be put in place to help them thrive.”

Councils have until early 2017 to produce Local Plans. In cases where no Local Plan has been produced, the government will arrange for a Local Plan to be written, in consultation with local people. Local people will also be able to see how their area is performing through a system of league tables.

The eight members of the expert panel are Chair John Rhodes of planning consultants Quod; Adrian Penfold from developers British Land;
Richard Harwood QC from 39 Essex Chambers; Councillor Toby Elliott from Swindon Borough Council; retired Senior Planning Inspector Keith Holland;

Liz Peace (formerly of the British Property Federation); John Howell MP, member for Henley – and Local Authority Plans Manager for Chelmsford City Council, Derek Stebbing.

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