New expert panel to help streamline the local plan-making process

New expert panel to help streamline the local plan-making process

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis has announced the launch of a new group of experts to help streamline the local plan-making process.

The 8-strong panel will consider how it can be simplified with the aim of slashing the amount of time it takes for local authorities to get them in place. The hope is that this will provide greater certainty to communities regarding plans for new homes and infrastructure in their area, while speeding up the planning process so developers can get on site quicker.

The members of the panel are to include:

  • Chair John Rhodes of planning consultants Quod
  • Adrian Penfold from developers British Land
  • Richard Harwood QC from legal firm 39 Essex Chambers
  • Councillor Toby Elliott from Swindon Borough Council
  • Keith Holland, a retired Senior Planning Inspector
  • Liz Peace, formerly of the British Property Federation
  • John Howell MP, member for Henley
  • Derek Stebbing, Local Authority Plans Manager for Chelmsford City Council

Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: “It’s fair to say the process of getting Local Plans in place can sometimes be lengthy and complicated. That’s why we’ve brought together this panel of experts to help look at ways to streamline the process. Their first-class advice will help councils push on and deliver the homes and infrastructure that their communities need.”

The government launched a reform of the planning system in 2012, reducing the amount of policy from more than 1,000 pages to just 52 and putting Local Plans at the heart of the system.

In total, 276 local authorities have published Local Plans to date with 216 adopted so far. However, that means more than a third of local planning authorities have yet to adopt plans.

Industry Reaction

The British Property Federation (BPF) has welcomed the news. Melanie Leech, chief executive of the BPF, said: “Local plans are crucial to ensuring local-led growth is successful and sustainable. It is great to see government recognise this and the formation of this group shows that it takes local plans seriously. It is good to see both private and public sector represented in the group.

“We would like to see the group think more broadly than the provisions laid out in the Productivity Plan, and to make sure that it is possible for local authorities to produce simple, straightforward plans that are conducive to the speedy delivery of new homes and places.”

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