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New measures will speed up housebuilding
Edward Ng - February 24, 2015

Brandon Lewis has proposed new measures to speed up the planning system and provide new homes more quickly.

So-called “section 106” agreements, which attach conditions on a planning permission being granted, can often lead to extended negotiations that delay the planning application process.

The Housing and Planning Minister is seeking views on plans to speed up the process, getting planning permission agreed and workers on site more quickly.
Housebuilding is an important part of the government’s long-term economic plan – with around 700,000 new homes provided since the end of 2009.

Section 106 agreements put requirements on planning applicants to make the proposals suitable for the area. These include mitigating a scheme’s impact such as through requiring improved transport to service it, providing an affordable housing element or requiring contributions from the applicant to be spent on other local schemes.

But they can add months to the planning process – stalling work on the homes communities want.

The proposals include:

  • setting clear time limits so section 106 negotiations are completed in line with the existing 8 to 13 week target for planning applications to be processed rather than letting them slow the whole planning process down
  • requiring parties to start discussions at the beginning of the planning application process, rather than the current system where negotiations can often start towards the end
    a dispute resolution process where negotiations stall preventing development
  • using standardised documents to avoid agreements being drafted from scratch for each and every application
  • potential legislation in the next Parliament to give new measures teeth

This is the latest in a range of measures the government has taken to improve the planning system. Others include:

  • introducing the National Planning Policy Framework to cut more than 1,000 pages of planning guidance to around 50
  • making it easier to convert existing commercial and retail buildings for residential use
  • removing the requirement for affordable housing and other contributions from small developers, saving up to £140,000 per home
  • All this has been done while maintaining strong protections for the green belt, which continues to prevent urban sprawl.