By Francesca James

Proposals for simplifying the planning and consents environment, encouraging development and growth and cutting the amount of red tape faced by business and government, has been published today by the Penfold Review.

The Review recommends measures that could free up resources, save time and money, and deliver real benefits not only to developers and investors, but also to consenting bodies in England. Local communities in towns and villages could also benefit from greater transparency and clarity about how decisions are made.

The Penfold Review was set up to find out what problems business, and especially small businesses, encounter that can make or break investment in development.

The investigation into “non-planning consents”, such as environment permits, highways orders, and heritage consents that are needed alongside or after planning permission, found a complex and fragmented landscape that poses real problems for some businesses to navigate effectively.

The Review recommends:

•Simplifying the non-planning consents landscape by removing some individual consents and rationalising other groups of related consents;

•Giving developers easy access to clear, accurate and up-to-date information;

•Delivering greater certainty for developers and removing duplication by improving the way planning and non-planning consents operate together;

•Improve the co-ordination and governance around decisions involving multiple decision makers;

•Strengthening the service culture of decision-making bodies by, for example, setting timetables for the determination of non-planning consents; and

•Creating a clear system for oversight of the planning and non-planning landscape.

Mark Prisk, Minister for Business, said:

“Businesses involved in construction and development should not have to deal with a regime made more complicated through needless red tape and procedure”.

“We need innovative solutions that simplify how government can deliver real benefits for business, saving time and money and encouraging growth.”

“Across government we need to carefully consider this report and I thank Adrian Penfold for his valuable contribution to our work on cutting down the burden on business.”

Adrian Penfold said;

“My Review presents a package of measures that would deliver real benefits to developers by removing unnecessary burdens and speeding up processes."

"The proposed changes should also give people more influence over what happens in their local communities, thanks to more efficient, transparent and accountable processes.”

"Decision-making bodies also stand to benefit by making changes that enable them to free up resource and redirect it towards their highest priorities."

“Establishing non-planning consents regimes that are more responsive to the needs of all users and that effectively interact with the planning process is very important in helping to drive sustainable economic growth"

The Government will consider the recommendations from the Penfold Review in detail and will publish a formal response in the autumn.

Commenting on the report, Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark said:

"It's common sense that we don't tie up businesses with red tape and hinder the country's return to economic growth through excessive regulation.

"This report makes it clear that non planning consents are adding to an already complex planning process and creating further delays to vital development.

"I am already overhauling Whitehall’s prescriptive top down planning system and we are committed to using this report’s practical recommendations to ensure the Government is deregulating and simplifying the whole development process."

Liz Peace, Chief Executive of the British Property Federation added:

“Improvements to the planning system don’t have to be revolutionary. Carefully thought through amendments to some of the myriad different and detailed regulations and processes that affect planning can be just as effective which is why I think the sensible, pragmatic proposals from the Penfold Review will deliver real benefits to the property development and investment community.”

“British Property Federation members want non-planning consent regimes that help, not hinder, the economy and I believe that this Review will help deliver this.”

“I welcome this report and urge the Government to implement its recommendations.”

Andrew Whitaker, Planning Director at the Home Builders Federation said:

“Members of the Home Builders Federation deliver around 80% of the new homes built each year in England and Wales. It is essential to our members that non-planning consent regimes (together with an efficient planning system) allow the timely delivery of the right homes, of the right types, in the right places.”

“We fully support the recommendations put forward by the Penfold Review and believe that their implementation would reduce delay, risk and cost for home builders.”