Today I am publishing a government response to the consultation that closed on 24 August detailing proposals to simplify the process of applying for the stopping up or diversion of a highway, where this is required for the purposes of development.
The main options presented in the consultation were to permit applications for a stopping up or diversion order to be submitted at the same time as applying for planning permission and to devolve decision-making to the local authority level.
The government has decided not to devolve the stopping up and diversion order process to a local level. Consultation responses suggested that any devolution should be accompanied by a charging regime; additional costs and charges would be borne by both local authorities and those making applications, with no guarantee of a simpler or faster process. The government does not feel that placing additional burdens on local authorities and costs on developers is right at this time. And the government is aware that the speed of processing applications for stopping up or diversion orders has increased considerably in the last year. Additionally, we do not propose to reform or encourage a greater use of section 116 of the Highways Act 1980.
The government continues to support the first option, to allow stopping up and diversion applications to be made alongside planning applications. The government considers this will remove a significant barrier to growth, by speeding up the process and allowing a reduction of burdens on both applicants and local authorities, as both applications can be considered concurrently. Legislation currently in Parliament, as part of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, will give effect to this measure.
This government response will be available in the libraries of both Houses and on the department’s website.