Growth and Infrastructure Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Knightsbridge Association (GIB 83)

Bullet points summarise the provisions of the bill. Comments follow.

1. implementing recommendations in the Penfold Review to remove over lapping consent regimes where consents are required in addition to planning permission, such as footpath diversion orders. In future, a footpath diversion order may be automatically granted by the local planning authority if necessitated by a development for which planning permission is required;

The footpath diversion may affect a different public from the planning application but provided that the consultation procedures take into account both consents there seems no objection to this provision.

2. providing for planning applications for developments to be prescribed in regulations to be made directly to the Secretary of State for determination in circumstances where the local planning authority has been designated as underperforming;

It is undeniable that there are local planning authorities that under-perform (take far too long to make decisions) but the solution should not be to centralise their powers, particularly for a government for whom ‘localism’ is a key aim`.

3. providing for a modification procedure in relation to affordable housing requirements in section 106 agreements which are no longer economically viable;

The KA commented previously to Government on this proposal in the following terms

Local authorities have been given duties under the Housing Acts to house classes of people in need. Planning obligations attached to housing applications have been the Government’s means of creating additional housing stock to enable these obligations to be carried out. Government policy has been issued relating to the quantity of affordable housing to be included in schemes.

If, as may well be the case, there are now planning permissions that have been rendered unviable by changing economic circumstances, then it is open to government to change its policy and to developers to approach local authorities for revisions to their obligations under existing law. No changes to legislation are required.

4. enabling the Secretary of State to prescribe by order any class of development which should be deemed a nationally significant project requiring a development consent order to the National Infrastructure Directorate. Such projects must be in the fields of energy, transport, water, waste or waste water or, importantly, a business or commercial project of a prescribed description. For the first time, a DCO may extend beyond infrastructure projects;

Projects of genuinely national significance should be decided nationally. If there is local opposition they generally are decided by central government through the appeal process.

5. removal of the need for special parliamentary procedure for nationally significant infrastructure projects promoted under the provisions of the Planning Act 2008 (a response to the Rookery South EfW application which has become bogged down in parliamentary process);

No comment.

6. cutting back on application paperwork which goes over and above what is required to inform planners about material issues relevant to development proposals;

Applicants are often asked to provide a lot of extra information: environmental impact statements, archaeological reports, access statements, hydrological reports etc. They often seem unnecessary (and costly). It is hard to see an objection to the legislation saying demands for reports should be reasonable.

7. introducing a new procedure to vary consents granted under the Electricity Act. This will be relevant to generating stations consented before the DCO regime kicked in;

No comment.

8. restricting objectors' ability to use town and village green applications to thwart development proposals. Land owners will be able to deposit statements bringing to an end any period during which persons may allege they have indulged in lawful sports and pastimes on the land to which the statement relates.

No. comment.

December 2012

Prepared 10th December 2012