Headlines: May 6th, 2009

Moves to streamline guidance on planning for sustainable economic growth have been put out for consultation. The new planning policy aims to create a coherent framework enabling local communities to meet the economic challenges they are currently facing.

The proposed Planning Policy Statement 4: Planning for Prosperous Economies, has been published by the Housing and Planning Minister, Margaret Beckett, who said it would streamline existing guidance and encourage positive and proactive planning for sustainable economic growth. It is intended to promote investment and competition while, at the same time, safeguarding city, town and village centres.

Ms Beckett said the integrated approach in the new policy would mean more certainty for businesses seeking planning permission and would help local councils to take faster decisions on applications. She said the planning system needed to do everything possible to support economic aspirations. “We need a flexible and responsive system with local authorities and business working together to understand the economic challenges they face and to exploit the opportunities they identify,” she added.

Key policies in the new framework include authorities giving favourable consideration to applications for economic growth unless there is good reason to believe the costs outweigh the benefits. It will also encourage councils to make full use of the tools available to them to simplify and speed up the planning process. The proposals would also promote the vitality of town centres and consumer choice and would remove the ‘needs test’ under which developers have to show a demand for what they are proposing.

Consultation on the draft planning policy statement will continue until July 28th.