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PLANNING AND COMPULSORY PURCHASE ACT 2004 Three Years On 9th March 2007 by Alun Alesbury
Royal Assent 13th May 2004 • So nearly three years on Not all of it is in effect yet • Serous doubt now whether some aspects ever will be
The 2004 Act • Very long gestation and consultation period The Government’s stated aim: to make the planning system “fairer and more efficient”. The formal purpose of the Act (from Preamble): “to make provision relating to spatial development and town and country planning; and the compulsory acquisition of land”.
LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORKS How did we get here? The 1947 Act – map-based Development Plans 1968 Act – Structure and Local Plans – but no obligation to do Local Plans covering whole district. Planning and Compensation Act 1991 – mandatory to prepare one Local Plan covering whole District; UDPs in unitary areas.
DELAY Some Councils had (have) still not got their first district-wide Local Plan through and adopted sixteen years later. Yet “Section 54A” [also introduced in 1991 – and now replaced by s.38(6) of the 2004 Act] had given these enhanced Plans paramount status in decision-making: “… determination shall be made in accordance with the plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.”
Section 54A was a really important change to the way the planning system was run. But did the Local Plan system live up to it? The consensus is “No”. Drafting, consultation, investigation, confirmation, adoption process could take so long that most Local Plans out of date before adoption. This was the ‘old’ system the 2004 Act sets out to remedy.
2004 Act – Development Plans – the Major Changes Structure Plans phased out – replaced by Regional Spatial Strategies. Local Plans/UDPs - replaced by Development Plan Documents (DPD) - within Local Development Frameworks (LDF) There is quite a long potential transition period LDF documents can only be adopted if independent Inspector approves. Individual LDF documents can be approved or updated at different times – more a ‘ring binder’ than a ‘bound document’ approach – all to be in accordance with a ‘Local Development Scheme’ (LDS)
What does the LDF include? A paradise for acronym-fanciers: DPD - Development Plan Documents SPD - Supplementary Planning Documents SCI - Statement of Community Involvement AMR - Annual Monitoring Report CS - Core Strategy SSA - Site-specific Allocations
All of these (and things like AAPs – Area Action Plans) can in theory be advanced piecemeal and individually considered by an Inspector at Examination in Public. Logically the first to be considered, at least first time round, is the “Core Strategy”. How are Core Strategies faring? A significant number have been found by Inspectors to be “unsound”. So back to square one for them, and any other following DPDs in preparation which were based on them.
Outline Planning Applications/ Reserved Matters Revised scheme in operation since August 2006: Reserved matters: layout, scale, appearance, access, landscaping. “Design and Access Statement” required with most non-household applications. But no real control over quality of these statements. Has requiring them really changed anything?
New Time Limits: • For determining “Major Developments” – up from 8 to 13 weeks (still 16 where EIA required) For implementation of permissions • Down from 5 to 3 years for full permissions • Still 3 years +2 years for “reserved matters” cases No more ‘semi-automatic’ renewal of permissions –since August 2006 • greater strain on LPA resources vs. fuller opportunity to reassess
Local Development Orders- available since May 2006 - an interesting power under Section 40 - is anyone using them? Temporary Stop Notices – Section 52 – available since March 2004 Enforcement Notice not required to be issued at same time. Only last 28 days unless other action (e.g. E.N.) taken within that time. Compensation still payable if LPA gets it wrong
Planning Contributions – Sections 46 - 48 Seems these provisions may never come into effect. The Treasury has muscled in, with the Barker Review, and is insisting on the different regime of ‘Planning Gain Supplement’ (PGS), to be brought into effect ‘not before 2009’.
Compulsory Purchase Provisions – Part 8 Not the great reform many have been arguing for for many years. Minor but useful provisions on procedure and compensation assessment. Apparently significant widening and loosening of wording enabling LPAs to use CPOs for ‘planning purposes’: “If the authority think … will facilitate…” Somewhat bizarrely, the link to the Development Plan was dropped. Is it making any difference in reality?