MHCLG proposes standardising development corporation planning powers

All development corporations could get plan-making and development control powers under new proposals from the government to revise the rules around how such bodies operate.

London's Queen Elizabeth park, built using a mayoral development corporation. Image by Nimalan Tharmalingam, Flickr
London's Queen Elizabeth park, built using a mayoral development corporation. Image by Nimalan Tharmalingam, Flickr

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the current suite of legal structures for development corporations mean some lack the power to take on plan-making and development control powers from local authorities.

It is seeking views on whether all development corporations should have both powers, and the ability to access developer contributions.

The consultation document states: "We are interested in your views about whether reform is needed to provide all development corporations with access to a suite of up-to-date planning powers."

The consultation outlines four types of development corporation models: new town development corporations; urban development corporations; mayoral development corporations; and locally-led new town development corporations.

Currently, mayoral development corporations have both plan-making and development control powers, while urban development corporations do not have plan-making powers, according to the MHCLG.

Meanwhile, new town development corporations rely on the secretary of state to approve their development plans and use a special development order to grant planning permission.

On developer contributions, the consultation asked for views on whether all development corporations should be able to use a range of mechanisms, such as community infrastructure levy, strategic infrastructure tariff and section 106 planning obligations, where they have taken on the corresponding planning powers from the local planning authority. 

The document says the purpose of the consultation is to seek views on whether the current varied legal framework "inhibits the operation of development corporations".

It is also looking for ideas on how to attract more private sector investment and involvement in development corporations.

It said: "Greater involvement could take a variety of forms, for example measures around governance structures, board composition or the introduction of more explicitly described powers to enter into contractual agreements with private sector partners."

But it said any changes would need to ensure the integrity of decision-making around public duties, such as planning and compulsory purchase.

The consultation runs until 21 December 2019.

The MHCLG has also launched a £10 million fund to help councils develop proposals for up to ten "new communities" across England using development corporations.

In July, the government introduced revised Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) that relaxed the requirements new town development corporations need to meet before they attempt to compulsorily purchase land for development.

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