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New measures to speed up housebuilding

Words: Laura Edgar
Housebuilding / iStock_000004570153

The property industry has welcomed government plans to speed up section 106 negotiations.

Following announcements in the Autumn Statement last year, housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis is holding a consultation on his plans to speed up the planning process to enable developers to get on site quicker.

Lewis said: “Section 106 planning agreements can bring great benefits to local communities but too often they drag out planning applications for months.

“That’s why I’m proposing measures that will speed up the process, get planning permissions granted quicker and workers on site earlier, all the while keeping the community benefits that these agreements can bring.”

Section 106 agreements aim to ensure that a development is suitable for a particular area, reducing the impact by imposing requirements such as improving the transport network and delivering affordable housing.

To reduce the length of the process, the housing minister has proposed that section 106 negotiations are completed during the existing eight to 13 week period planning applications have to be processed.

Additionally, the consultation document says all parties will have to have negotiation discussions at the start of the planning process rather than towards the end; a resolution process will be introduced for disputes that prevent development starting; the use of standardised documents and clauses to speed up the draft process and “potential legislation in the next parliament to give new measures teeth.”

While the British Property Federation (BPF) has praised the government for its commitment to reduce delays in the planning process, it has warned “against bringing in stringent rules that could make it harder for local authorities who are already meeting their targets to continue to do so.”

Melanie Leech, chief executive at the BPF, said: “Many local authorities already have effective mechanisms in place to ensure that delays of this sort do not happen, and we encourage government to look to the good practice of these authorities before bringing in inflexible rules that might stop them operating.” The consultation will run until 19 March, 2015.