News Government Looks Simplify Development Consents

The Government has unveiled proposals to simplify development consents by creating a “more open and competitive planning system”.

In a progress update on its response to the independent Penfold Review of non-planning consents, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills set out measures that it claims will reduce confusion for businesses while cutting the overlap between regulators.

They include expanding the simplified approach to the environmental permitting system, which would mean developers would only have to apply for a single consent rather than several different ones.

It also wants a “lighter touch” application process for consents with low environmental impact, as well as service standards for authorising bodies to make the overall application system more straightforward.

Furthermore, ministers want clearer guidance on when consents are required, earlier discussion of applications and a protocol to ensure the work of the Environment Agency and local authorities is not duplicated.

BIS also said it is consulting on a code of practice to increase the transparency of the decision making process at local authority level.

Business minister Mark Prisk said: “These consents provide important environmental and social protections but too little thought was given to their cumulative impact on businesses resulting in an often burdensome and overlapping system.”

There are currently more than 80 different development consents covering areas like safeguarding local heritage, protecting endangered species or ensuring road networks are adequate.

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