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PLANNING FORUM WELCOMES PLANNING GREEN PAPER, WITH RESERVATIONS

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Mills & Reeve and CBI East of England recently held the first meeting of a ...
Mills & Reeve and CBI East of England recently held the first meeting of a

forum on the government's planning green paper*.

The green paper discussions also covered governmental consultations on major

infrastructure projects, legal planning agreements and compulsory purchase

and compensation.

The forum warmly welcomed the government's aim of improving and speeding up

the planning system and simplifying the compulsory purchase regime.

However, it was felt that the green paper went much further than was

necessary to achieve these aims. The reform of the plan-led system was

thought to be unnecessarily complex. The forum also questioned whether

local planning authorities, restricted under current funding arrangements,

could deliver the speedier planning decisions envisaged by the government,

whatever changes to the planning system were enacted.

The forum's major concern was that the new proposals for planning gain will

simply impose a further layer of control without removing the inherent

problems in finalising planning agreements and that they amounted to a

development tax by the back door.

Mills & Reeve planning law partner, David Brock, said: 'We have one of the

most sophisticated and flexible planning systems in the world, but that is

part of the problem. The government has rightly responded to the CBI's push

to speed it up, and measures for the business planning zones, with a more

relaxed regime, will help. However, the proposals for reform of planning

gain could simply add another layer without simplifying matters.

Fundamentally, we need more resources at planning authorities'.

Harold Eatock, regional director for the CBI in the East of England, said:

'We live in a fiercely competitive global economy. The present system is

standing in the way of the infrastructure investment the UK economy so

desperately needs. If we want to see an efficient, reliable transport system

within our lifetimes we must reform the process. Our planning process is the

best friend the economies of France and Germany have.'

The forum is due to meet again shortly to look at the progress of the

government's reforms and their likely impact.

Background

Mills & Reeve is a national law firm with 60 partners, 250 lawyers and total

staff of 500 operating throughout the UK from offices in Cambridge, Norwich,

London and Birmingham. The firm offers a full range of corporate,

commercial, property, litigation and private client services.

Mills & Reeve's planning team handles all aspects of planning law from

applications to appeals, enforcement and high court challenges. Advice on

listed buildings, ancient monuments, SSSIs, special protection areas,

special areas of conservation, and environmental assessment is an integral

part of the team's work. All of the team's planning lawyers are also

environmental lawyers. The team has particular expertise in minerals and

waste planning. Mills & Reeve's planning team works closely with the firm's

property and development lawyers and is also familiar with PFI/PPP and the

impact of those structures on the delivery of appropriate planning

permissions and agreements.

Notes

1. The planning green paper was issued on 12th December 2001. It

outlined the government's proposals for major reform of the planning system.

secretary of state, Stephen Byers, said when it was launched:

'This is a radical change in the way we look at planning. Instead of being

led by plans we will be led by people. We want a planning system in which

the values of the whole community are allowed to prosper and develop.'

The green paper is wide ranging and proposes the abolition of structure

plans, local plans and unitary development plans and their replacement with local development frameworks, supported by local action plans. It also proposes contracts between would-be developers and local planning authorities for the speedier delivery of planning permissions. It proposes the abolition of 'twin-tracked' planning applications and envisages new procedures for major infrastructure projects.

Planning Gain Agreements also get a major overhaul with the introduction of a development tariff while retaining the flexibility to require schools, village halls and highway improvements.

A comprehensive review of compulsory purchase law is also promised, making this highly complex and contentious system more digestible and including, for example, clearer and wider compulsory purchase powers, particularly for local planning authorities seeking to assemble sites for urban regeneration. On the compensation side, the proposal is that, in addition to open market value for land or rights compulsorily acquired, there is to be an across the board 'loss-payment' to reflect the fact that the acquisition has been compulsory. (To date these additional payments

have been limited to the householders and certain agricultural units).

2. The forum consists of members of the CBI and clients and contacts of

Mills & Reeve. It is led by David Brock of the planning and environmental

law team at Mills & Reeve.

3. David Brock is a leading planning lawyer and member of the Law Society's planning committee. He represented the Law Society last week at their meeting with planning minister, Lord Falconer, on the green paper.

4. Copies of the planning green Paper and the compulsory purchase consultation paper are available from DTLR website at http://www.planning.dtlr.gov.uk or from DTLR Free Literature 0870 122 6236.

A summary of the initial CBI response can be found at http://www.cbi.org.uk

* The planning green paper is available here.

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