Government welcomes study calling for simplifaction of non-planning consent regime

A huge range of official consents that developers currently have to apply for before building work can start should be merged or reduced, according to a government review.

The review, by the head of planning at British Land, Adrian Penfold, calls for conservation area consent to be merged in with the planning system, and for the currently separate regimes for listed buildings and scheduled monuments to be combined.

In addition it says the government should consider winding in individual consent regimes for species licensing, highways, water extraction, public rights of way under an environmental permitting programme.

It also calls for better information to be provided to developers, and for government bodies responsible for managing consents to be given timetables to respond to applications.

In general it says the system should be rationalised so that all considerations which could affect “if” any given development goes ahead, be considered under the planning system, with other consents only able to determine “how” a development is built.

Adrian Penfold said the review presented a package of measures that would deliver benefits to developers by removing unnecessary burdens and speeding up processes. He said: “Establishing non-planning consents regimes that are more responsive to the needs of all users and that effectively interact with the planning process is very important in helping to drive sustainable economic growth”

The report was immediately welcomed by both the British Property Federation and the Home Builders’ Federation.

Mark Prisk, minister for business, said: “Businesses involved in construction and development should not have to deal with a regime made more complicated through needless red tape and procedure. We need innovative solutions that simplify how government can deliver real benefits for business, saving time and money and encouraging growth.”

The government is to consider the recommendations in detail before deciding which measures to take forward, with a formal response expected in the autumn.