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Housing and Planning Bill: Planning applications to be decided by third party proposal welcomed

Words: Laura Edgar

The British Property Federation (BPF) has welcomed an amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill that will allow planning applications to be processed by “alternative providers”.

The amendment was tabled just before Christmas by communities secretary Greg Clark while housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis brought the amendment forward during the bill's third reading on 5 January, which would introduce pilot schemes to transfer the processing of planning applications to a third party.

The amendment stated that the move would not affect a local planning authority’s responsibility for determining planning applications and only applies until a specified date.

While Labour MPs criticised the amendment as being a “privatisation of planning”, the BPF, a trade association for UK commercial and residential property companies, has welcomed it.

Melanie Leech, chief executive at the BPF, said the amendment has the potential to be a real help to local authorities who struggle with lack of planning department resources. “Relieving local authorities from the administrative side of the planning application process will free up resources within departments, but still allows them to have the final say over development in their area. It is crucial that any changes are clear and transparent, to allow local communities to retain their confidence in the system.

“This amendment will only allow this idea to be piloted, so no policy has changed yet, but it seems like a step in the right direction. It is encouraging to see government engaging with this issue, which afflicts both developers and local authorities alike.”

More about this amendment and what was said during the third reading of the bill can be found here.

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