Policy Summary: Further details announced on bringing housing plans into major projects regime

Policy: Housing and Planning Bill: Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and Housing Briefing Note

Development consent includes homes
Development consent includes homes

Issued by: Department for Communities and Local Government

Issue date: 28 October 2015

Background: Clause 107 of the Housing and Planning Bill, introduced in the House of Commons on 13 October, allows development consents granted under the nationally significant infrastructure project system to include a residential element. This Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) briefing note explains the change and includes draft guidance defining the scale and nature of permitted housing.

Key points: The Planning Act 2008 defined nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) such as transport and energy schemes for which consent can be secured under a fast-track process. The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 extended the NSIP definition to cover some business and commercial projects.

In these cases, the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) makes a recommendation on whether the secretary of state should grant a development consent order (DCO) covering planning permission for the main project and essential supporting developments, along with related consents and any compulsory land acquisition required. Projects falling within the system are defined in secondary legislation, allowing ministers to bring other types of proposal within the regime.

At present, DCOs cannot be issued for any form of permanent residential development, meaning that any such element requires separate permission from the local authority. The government intends to allow DCO applications to include "related housing development".

These provisions cover both schemes combining infrastructure or commercial premises with residential elements within "geographic proximity" and projects that include permanent housing for construction, referred to by government as meeting a "functional need". The amount of housing will be limited through controls set out in secondary legislation. The government says no purely residential project will fall within the regime. The reforms apply only in England.

There will be a maximum of 500 permanent homes created through this route. In protected or sensitive locations where the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) indicates that development should be restricted, the briefing note says that "a lower number of dwellings, or no housing at all, is likely to be appropriate".

Under the geographic proximity provisions, homes can be included up to a mile away from the scheme's infrastructure elements. The DCLG says they should include affordable housing and Starter Homes under the section 106 agreement.

The note explains that PINS is likely to examine the housing element of any DCO application as a separate part of the process. PINS will be free to make separate recommendations on the housing and other elements of a project and ministers may grant consent for infrastructure but reject the residential elements, it adds.

The document can be read here. 

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