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Simplifying development

The latest measures to help simplify development consents, by cutting red tape and creating a more open and competitive planning system, were set out recently in the Government’s progress update to the Penfold Review.

The update, an important action from the Growth Review, details the progress since the Government’s response to the independent review published in November last year, which includes:

• Expanding the simplified approach to the environmental permitting system, allowing developers to apply for one consent rather than several
• Creating a lighter touch application process for low-impact environmental consents
• Setting out service standards for the major consenting bodies to improve the ease of applying for consents, such as named points of contact, clearer guidance on whether consents are needed and encouraging early discussion to smooth an application process
• Consulting on a code to increase transparency of the decision making process in Local Authorities
• Creating a protocol to guide working between the Environment Agency, Local Authorities and developers to cut out duplication and confusion.

The recently launched Red Tape Challenge will play a significant role in reducing the burdens and confusion of the development consents system. It will allow people to comment on, and suggest improvements to, consents and planning regulations, with the aim of reducing unnecessary and out-of-date rules, cutting burdens and improving enforcement.

Mark Prisk, Minister for Business and Enterprise, said: “Real progress is being made to cut back the confusion and complexity of the development consents system. These consents provide important environmental and social protections but too little thought was given their cumulative impact on businesses resulting in an often burdensome and overlapping system.

“The Penfold Review put forward strong recommendations to clear away the clutter and the Government is delivering on these to help transform a key driver to economic growth in the UK.”

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: “We are delighted the Government has listened to the concerns of the property industry and is moving to reduce the suffocating web of development consents that are currently stifling development and economic growth.

“The complexities of the consents are a real hindrance to developers, and it is particularly pleasing to see environmental impact assessments will be cut down to one consent rather than several, which is something we have been lobbying Government to change for a long time.”