912: Government issues survey on Planning Act 2008 reform
Today’s entry reports on a government survey on reform of the Planning Act 2008 / NSIP / DCO regime.
By way of background, the government has committed to a review of the Planning Act 2008 regime (or Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime or Development Consent Order (DCO) regime if you prefer – the government prefers ‘NSIP regime’). This will take place over two years from last month until September 2023.
The changes won’t all happen at the end, they will be brought in throughout that period. Presumably those that don’t need primary legislation can be slotted in fairly easily; if they do they could be slotted into the ever-shrinking and disappearing off to the right (town and country) planning reform bill.
The housing minister Christopher Pincher MP issued a letter to members of the National Infrastructure Planning Association (NIPA) in June which explains the process in more detail.
On 12 August the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (whose nickname of HoCoLoGo I want to popularise) issued a survey about reform of the Planning Act 2008 regime. The survey can be accessed via this page (click on ‘online survey’) and you have until 17 December 2021 to complete it, so no hurry.
It asks eight main questions, with answers limited to 300 words each, which I paraphrase as:
- how could NSIP applications be speeded up and be of better quality?
- how could the examination and decision process be improved?
- what impediments to implementing DCOs could be removed?
- how could digital enhancements improve things?
- how could cross-government coordination on projects help?
- does the NSIP regime successfully interact with other processes?
- are capacity issues amongst applicants and interested parties causing problems?
- have we left anything out?
I think I would have trouble limiting most of those to 300 words but will try. In fact, the questions that are asked are nearly word-for-word the ones in the minister’s letter of 21 June 2021. The biggest change is that ‘that you are working on’ has been removed from the cross-government coordination question ie they are hardly different at all.
This survey comes hot on the heels of the National Infrastructure Planning Association’s own earlier one that broke the regime down into a number of stages and asked how each could be improved. The answers to that survey will also be provided to the government for its consideration.
So the reform of the NSIP regime is picking up pace and unlike the last most significant changes via the Localism Act 2011, this time users of the regime are front and centre of the reforms, which is a good thing.