Draft regulations on extending fast-track regime published

Thresholds for business and commercial projects that can be determined under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime have been widened, draft regulations have revealed.

Offices: included in new fast-track regime
Offices: included in new fast-track regime

The changes are contained in a policy statement published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

This outlines the types of business and commercial development that can be considered under the NSIP regime, which means they would be decided by the Planning Inspectorate rather than a local authority.

The original consultation proposed that offices and research and development facilities should be "over 40,000 square metres of internal floorspace" to be eligible for consideration under the NSIP regime.

But the draft policy statement says that the floorspace should be "not normally … less than 40,000 square metres."

The same wording is applied to proposals for manufacturing and processing, warehousing, storage and distribution and conference and exhibition centres.

Leisure and tourism projects should be "not normally less than 40,000 seats", while minerals projects should "not normally be less than 150 hectares" at surface or underground, according to the statement.

The statement also points out that more than one nationally significant project could be considered in a single application if the developer wished.

There is also flexibility to allow for a project to include a mix of uses. The document gives the example of a nationally significant manufacturing project which could include some related energy or transport infrastructure.

Margaret Baddeley, senior associate director at consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners, said that use of a single application would make the NSIP regime much more attractive for developers. "It gives them more flexibility in how they put their applications together," she said.

The draft regulations can be viewed here.

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