A blog about planning, planning law and planning policy

Disclaimer

The information on this blog is not intended to be advice, legal or otherwise. You should not rely on it and I do not accept liability in connection with it. If you do have a planning law question on which you would like advice, seek legal advice from a suitably qualified solicitor. Specific advice should be sought for specific problems.

Christmas comes early for applicants – outline applications made less onerous

At last.  The onerous requirements on what has to be included with an outline planning application are being relaxed by an amendment order laid before Parliament yesterday and coming into force on 31st January 2013.  It was in 2006 that the definitions of what constituted had to go in with an outline planning application were changed and design and access statements were introduced.

As a result where layout is a reserved matter the application for outline planning permission has to state the approximate location of buildings, routes and open spaces included in the development proposed and where scale is a reserved matter the application must state the upper and lower limit for the height, width and length of each building included in the development proposed.  This might work for an application for single building, but it caused huge problems for larger developments, especially housing applications for hundreds or thousands of houses.  (And might have fuelled the samey-ness of modern residential developments which the Minister, Nick  Boles, complained about earlier this month).  So it is a relief to read that the requirements for location of buildings, routes and open spaces, height width and length of each building are deleted from 31st January.  But it does make you wonder who drafts this stuff in the first place. Who actually dreams up these requirements and do they have any experience at the sharp end of doing a planning application?

We can ask the same question about Community Infrastructure Levy, where the regulations have just been amended for the second time to correct errors in the first regulations (or three times if you count the fact they almost failed to have any transitional arrangements at all). This “simple” levy is becoming very difficult to understand, and I am not the only lawyer who is still unclear about what some parts of the latest amendments mean.  Those amendments – to deal with s.73 applications – fail also to amend Reg 123. That’s the one which limits the number of planning obligations which can be pooled.  Logically the planning obligations which go with the s.73 permission should be ignored, but that hasn’t been done.  And the draftsman of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill doesn’t know the difference between a planning obligation and a planning agreement.  Now we all make mistakes, and I don’t want to pillory anybody (we can safely leave that to MPs and Select Committees) but legislating and drafting legislation does need a bit of care.

So here is my last example for today. The nice new regulations removing the requirement to detail the height, width and length of every building in an outline planning application also make welcome amendments to attack the problem of local lists of requirements for a planning application.  These are a source of expense and uncertainty about what must go in to make an application valid.  These changes will apply from 31st June 2013.  Yes, 31st June.  So is that actually 30th June? Or 1st July? Or 31st July? Or maybe it’s meant to be 31st January which is the day the regulations come into force.

Who drafts this stuff?

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