Government to push ahead with new 'deemed discharge' measure

Plans for a new 'deemed discharge' measure where councils do not respond to developer requests to sign off planning conditions within a 'reasonable timescale' are to go ahead, the government has announced.

Flooding: conditions related to managing flood risk will be exempt
Flooding: conditions related to managing flood risk will be exempt

The government consulted on the measure along with a raft of other proposals aimed at further speeding up the planning system in July.

In a response to the consultation published today, the government said it would push ahead with the proposal.

The document said that the deemed discharge measure "is not about penalising local authorities".

"It is about ensuring that they hit the deadlines they are already working towards, and providing the applicant with greater certainty as to when a decision can be expected. This proposal will not undermine the ability of the local authority to consider the matter properly within a reasonable timescale, or to refuse approval where it is not satisfied with the proposal or to enforce where a developer has not complied with the substantive condition".

It said the government considers that the deemed discharge measures "represent an effective and proportionate response to the issue of delays in discharging planning conditions that will make a significant contribution to unblocking much needed development, including new homes, that the country badly needs".

The document said the responses to the consultation "showed strong support a cross respondent groups for the detailed process proposals put forward for the deemed discharge".

It said the measure would retain "robust safeguards ... and flexibility to promote discussion between the local planning authority and the applicant (a deemed discharge would need to be activated and would not be automatic and timings can be changed if there is agreement)".

On exemptions, the document said it would "not be appropriate for a deemed discharge to be available for all types of conditions".

It said the government will therefore put in place exemptions for conditions attached to development that is subject to an environmental impact assessment; conditions attached to development that is likely to have a significant effect on a qualifying European site; and conditions designed to manage flood risk.

The consultation proposed that a deemed discharge would only be activated by the applicant serving a notice on the local planning authority.

It said that the applicant’s option to notify the local planning authority that they intend to treat the condition as discharged "would be available any time after the expiry of six weeks from the day after the application to discharge the condition was received by the local planning authority".

The response document said there was "significant support" for these proposals.

"The government considers that this procedure would ensure that local authorities receive notice of an applicant’s intention to rely on a deemed discharge, and allow the applicant to proceed where no decision has been made within a reasonable time. The government therefore intends to take forward these procedural elements in the form proposed in the consultation paper", the document said.

Deemed discharge of planning conditions: government response to consultation

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