An expansion of the ‘one-stop-shop’ approach for considering nationally significant infrastructure projects will help boost growth and jobs.
The Growth and Infrastructure Bill, currently being considered in Parliament, will help the country compete on the global stage by introducing a comprehensive series of practical reforms that will reduce confusing and overlapping red tape that delays and discourages business investment, new infrastructure and job creation.
Proposals in the Bill include reducing the number of different consents infrastructure developers require. The government is also consulting on a new streamlined ‘one-stop-shop’ service and on reducing the number of bodies developers need to consult on every application. The proposed reforms will deliver a swifter, more efficient planning process while ensuring interested parties can continue to be heard.
Reforms will also open up the fast-track planning process used for nationally significant infrastructure projects to additional types of nationally significant development. It will be open for the first time to business and commercial projects that are important to delivering growth and prosperity and boosting the economy.
The new types of developments that could be considered under the nationally significant infrastructure system include: manufacturing and major tourism and leisure proposals, office development such as research and development facilities, and warehousing.
Developers would be allowed to request that their application for these nationally significant business projects be determined through the infrastructure planning system which ensures decisions are made within 12 months from the beginning of examination. Existing requirements to consult local communities are retained.
Consultations on these two proposed reforms to the major infrastructure planning process were issued today. (See extending the regime to business and commercial projects and expanding and improving the ‘one stop shop’ approach for consents)
Nick Boles said:
“It is vital we secure investment in new nationally significant infrastructure and commercial development, and that quicker and better planning decisions are made, if we are to help boost the economy and create the new jobs we need.
“Planning delays help no one. They bring uncertainty for local people and local firms and can deter new investment all together. By streamlining the planning process to make it quicker and easier for these national significant projects to be decided we can ensure sustainable development gets underway without delay.”
Recent reforms have already given significant additional powers to councils and communities so they can decide on the scale and location of development in their areas. With this power comes a responsibility to ensure that local planning decisions are efficient and effective.
The Growth and Infrastructure Bill will also give planning applicants the ability to apply directly to the Planning Inspectorate where there is clear evidence that a council’s planning service is performing very poorly and failing to administer a proper service for both applicants and local residents. A consultation recently published sets out how these proposals would work, including the basis for assessing performance.