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Ministers warned over latest reforms to pre-commencement conditions

Published: Thursday, 10th November 2016

The British Property Federation and the Planning Officers Society have advised that current legislative proposals set out in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill do not allow enough flexibility...

The property industry and planning officers have joined forces to urge government to enshrine best practice for pre-commencement planning conditions in national planning guidance, including a clear route for appealing conditions.

They have warned that current legislative proposals set out in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill do not allow enough flexibility to account for local circumstances. There is a risk that the measures will delay the planning process further by pushing contentious decisions into the time-consuming negotiation of section 106 requirements.

The British Property Federation (BPF) and the Planning Officers Society (POS) have jointly recommended that the proportionate and appropriate use of planning conditions is best achieved by setting out a clear route of appeal in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Planning Practice Guidance (PPG), with associated costs being attributed to the losing party.

BPF chief executive Melanie Leech said: "Streamlining the use of planning conditions could herald a welcome acceleration for development, and we support government efforts to ensure that their abuse doesn't pose an unnecessary barrier to delivering the new homes and real estate that are essential to people's everyday lives.

“However, clear and appropriate conditions are an essential part of achieving good place making, and developers and planning officers are in agreement that a more flexible approach, with best practice guidance and a clear appeals route, would better serve this objective.

“With local authority resources already stretched, now is not the time to risk making a time-consuming process even more onerous."

POS chair Mike Kiely said: "The value and benefits of using concisely worded and proportionate conditions to achieve good place-making should be articulated and communicated more widely."

The government is proposing to limit the use of conditions by setting out a list of prohibited conditions in the Neighbourhood Planning Bill, currently waiting for its report stage and third reading in the Commons before being scrutinised by the Lords.

Read the Planning Officers Society’s news release.

Roger Milne