On 25 April the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 received Royal Assent. With this new law, which arrives just over a year after the implementation of the NPPF, comes a raft of changes to planning policy. Whilst the news has already created headlines in planning circles it is worthwhile noting that none of the Act is stand-alone, as it only amends existing Acts.
One of the most talked about changes is the opportunity it grants developers to seek the renegotiation or discharge of affordable housing obligations of Section 106 agreements and make developments viable. Under previous legislation the applicant had been required to wait five years before being able to make a formal request to vary planning obligations.
Advice provided to Local Planning Authorities (LPA) by the Department for Communities and Local Government has outlined the need for the applicant to submit “clear, up-to-date and appropriate evidence” and an “open book review of the original viability appraisal” in order to demonstrate that the proposals are no longer viable due to the current economic climate.
The Government will be hoping that this change will clear a backlog of housing developments which have stalled in recent years and, in turn, boost the house building industry.
Another interesting aspect of the Act is that it enables developers to take a planning application directly to the Planning Inspectorate when the LPA has “consistently failed to meet statutory requirements to consider applications on time.”
Away from large-scale development, the amendments also include the highly debated measures to extend permitted development rights for home owners to allow extensions of up to eight metres. This is a twofold increase on the previous permitted rights which only applies to single-storey extensions and ensures that neighbours must be consulted.
Speaking after the Act received Royal Assent, Planning Minister Nick Boles commented:
“The Growth and Infrastructure Act is a major landmark for the coalition government. These new laws will reform our economy so it can boost investment, growth and jobs by streamlining a lot of confusing and overlapping red tape that all too often gets in the way of people’s everyday lives.”