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New amendment to Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to speed up neighbourhood planning

View profile for Helen Porter
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The Housing and Planning Bill has now had its second reading in the House of Lords on 26 January 2016, after passing through the House of Commons. The next stage for the bill is scrutiny by a House of Lords committee who will look at the bill line by line. The committee will produce a report on the Bill and it will then go for a final third reading in the House of Lords before both Houses consider any amendments and the Bill receives Royal Assent.

The overriding purpose of this Bill is to speed up neighbourhood planning, by providing confidence in the planning system in order to deliver on the Government’s promise to deliver new homes.

One provision is the proposal to allow for a dispute procedure to speed up the approval of S106 agreements which will be inserted into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as a new Schedule 9A. You will find this on pages 163 - 168 of the Bill.

In brief, this proposal is as follows:

  1. Where an applicant has made an application for planning permission to a local planning authority and there are unresolved issues regarding what should be the terms of the s106 agreement which cannot be agreed between the applicant and the local authority then the Secretary of State (upon receipt of a request to do so from either party) must appoint a person to assist with the resolution of the unresolved issues where the Secretary of State thinks that the local planning authority would be likely to grant the application if satisfactory planning obligations were entered into.
  2. Both parties will have to co-operate with the appointed person and comply with any reasonable requests to provide information, documents or take part in meetings.
  3. The appointed person will prepare a report for both parties identifying the unresolved issues and indicating the steps taken since his appointment to resolve the issues. If before the report is sent, the parties agree the terms of the s106 agreement this will be included in the report. The report should set out the appointed persons recommendations as to what terms would be appropriate bearing in mind any template published by the Secretary of State.
  4. If the local authority determines an application where planning obligations have been entered into with the local authority and the s106 agreement accords with the recommendations in the appointed person’s report then the local authority must not refuse the application on a ground that relates to the appropriateness of the s106 agreement.
  5. The local authority cannot refuse permission and the applicant cannot appeal until the process is complete.

The proposals are a brief outline of a new regime to speed up the negotiation and conclusion of s106 agreements, although as currently drafted there are a number of outstanding points to consider such as the costs involved in making an application, the timeframes for each stage and also how this will be managed by the Secretary of State. This procedure will benefit those applicants whose s106 agreement negotiations have been delayed and have thus blocked their applications for planning permission. Currently as drafted it is unclear whether the procedure will be cost effective and time efficient to make any real difference in the negotiation of s106 agreements.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.