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MEDIATION USED TO SPEED UP PLANNING

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The use of mediation to resolve planning disputes could help speed up the planning process. ...
The use of mediation to resolve planning disputes could help speed up the planning process.

A pilot scheme, part of the government's modernising planning initiative, showed that mediation worked particularly well in resolving cases where householders were in dispute with planning authorities.

Welcoming publication of a report on the pilot, planning minister, Beverley Hughes said: 'The mediation process was welcomed by participants as a useful way of exploring all the issues in a dispute on a non-confrontational 'without prejudice' basis. It was particularly attractive to householders because it achieved a communication link with planners which was in their eyes more 'user friendly'.'

The minister continued: 'I would like to see further investigation of the use of mediation at other stages in the planning system, for instance, at development

plan stage or in resolving particular issues in cases going to inquiry. Further consideration is also needed to assess how mediation might be integrated into the existing planning system.'

The pilot indicated that the use of mediation in the planning process could assist in reducing stress, saving time, and cutting paperwork.

The report is available on www.planning.detr.gov.uk

Notes

1. Commissioned by DETR in 1998 as part of its modernising planning initiative, the study was to identify and examine cases where the local planning authority and the developer or householder believed that mediation might be helpful in resolving a dispute. The research was also to examine the types of cases which lend themselves to mediation, the impact on third parties, the costs and savings expected, and the best procedures.

2. The study which was administered by the planning inspectorate, was led by Michael Welbank with co-consultants Nick Davies and Ian Haywood. The participating local planning authorities were volunteers. Within those local authority areas the Inspectorate aimed to identify planning applications and planning appeals where both the local planning authority and the developer or householder might feel that mediation would be useful in resolving a dispute.

3. The pilot study held 48 mediations between December 1998 and December 1999. Of the 48 mediations, 65% successfully achieved an outcome, and in 73% of the cases, there were no subsequent appeals.

4. Independent mediators were recruited and trained specifically for the project.

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