Development consent for housing: Update 16 June 2016

Section 160 extends the Planning Act 2008's definition of nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) to proposals that include an associated housing element, thus making them eligible to be included in development consent orders.

Under the 2008 act, any element of housing was excluded from consideration through NSIP applications. The new provision enables development consent for "related housing" to be authorised under the Planning Act 2008 regime, provided it has some functional or geographical way link with a qualifying infrastructure project. Project promoters would still have the option of applying for any associated housing element via the conventional planning application route.

A briefing note issued last autumn alongside the Housing and Planning Bill, and yet to be issued in final form, suggested that "related housing" should comprise no more than 500 homes and should either have a functional link to the NSIP or be within a mile of any part of it. The note said the functional link could include homes required for workers during the construction phase or key workers during operation.

Commencement: These provisions will come into force on a date to be prescribed by regulations and will be accompanied by further guidance.

Comment: "In extremis, this provision could allow housing just under a mile from and not related to an NSIP," said Bircham Dyson Bell partner Angus Walker. "Early indications are that some easy-win truly associated housing, such as to provide employee stock in association with a new nuclear project, might be runners," said Landmark Chambers barrister Rupert Warren QC.

The briefing note is available here:

More on this topic:
* Will developers apply for housing under the fast track infrastructure route?
* Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime to enable housing growth