Planning & Environment

One controversial element of the planning reforms has been the requirement for a twelve-week public pre-application consultation (PAC) before an application may be made under section 42 of the Act for variation of a condition in existing permission for a major development. So, for instance, if the turbines in 22MW windfarm need to be repositioned slightly beyond the tolerance allowed in conditions, there must be a PAC. This is inconvenient, and probably adds little to the quality of the final outcome.

The Government considered it did not have power under the amended 1997 Act to remove this requirement, and was not keen to put a new planning bill before Parliament. Reports are that it has now hit on a solution.

Section 17 of the recently passed Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 gives the Government power to remove or reduce any burden (such as a financial cost or administrative inconvenience) to any person in any legislation. It can do so by an order, without having to pass a bill through Parliament.

But there are cases where (if PAC is ever appropriate) you’d think the requirement for PAC should remain for variation of permission. So what criterion are the Government going to apply to decide when PAC is appropriate? Watch this space.

I am thinking of collecting a list of other administrative inconveniences the Government might want to apply its new power to. Any suggestions? (who says the entire planning system is an administrative inconvenience?).

Planning & Environment