Autumn Statement: Government to review planning appeals process

The government is to review the planning appeals process to ‘improve consistency and increase certainty of decision timescales’, chancellor George Osborne has announced.

Chancellor George Osborne
Chancellor George Osborne

In his Autumn Statement unveiled this afternoon, Osborne said the government’s planning reforms "strike the right" balance between protecting the countryside while permitting economic development.

But he added: "We need to go further to remove the lengthy delays and high costs of the current system, with new time limits on applications and new responsibilities for statutory consultees".

The Autumn Statement document commits the government to a review of planning appeals procedures, "seeking to make the process faster and more transparent, improve consistency and increase certainty of decision timescales". Proposals will be brought forward for implementation in summer 2012, it says.

The document also says the government will ensure that there is a "more effective mechanism for applicants to obtain an award of costs, if there is an appeal against refusal of a planning permission where a statutory consultee has acted unreasonably, through measures to be implemented in summer 2012".

The government will also "improve the performance of the key statutory consultees in responding swiftly to applications. This will include key statutory bodies bringing forward an improvement plan by spring 2012", it says.

In addition, the document says the government will consult on proposals to "allow the reconsideration of those planning obligations agreed prior to April 2010 where development is stalled" and on proposals "to allow existing agricultural buildings to be used for other business purposes such as offices, leisure and retail space, to make it easier for rural businesses to find the premises they need to expand".

The chancellor also said the government would ensure that "compliance with the Habitats and Wild Birds Directives does not lead to unnecessary costs and delays to development" and he said it would "make sure that gold plating of EU rules on things like habitats aren’t placing ridiculous costs on British businesses".

Osborne also defended his record on environmental policies. "I am the chancellor who funded the first ever Green Investment Bank and introduced a Carbon Floor Price. Our Green Deal will help people insulate their homes and cut their heating bills", he said.

But he added: "I am worried about the combined impact of the green policies adopted not just in Britain, but also by the European Union, on some of our heavy, energy-intensive industries. We are not going to save the planet by shutting down our steel mills, aluminium smelters and paper manufacturers".

Autumn Statement 2011 can be read here.


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