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Planning reform timetable announced

The timetable for delivering reform of the planning system under the new Planning Act has been made clear in parliament. There will be a draft circular on planning obligations (the to-be-renumbered Section 106 agreements) this autumn, covering negotiations only that will replace Circular 1/97. The aim is to publish a final circular in early 2005, accompanied by a Good Practice Guide on negotiations. The new arrangements should be in force early next year.

Work is continuing on the 'optional planning charge' and ministers are hoping to encourage a number of local authorities to pilot options for charging. In parallel, the government has reiterated that the Barker proposal for a 'Planning Gain Supplement', with a scaled-back system of planning obligations, is still under consideration. However, it will not emerge until next year whether, or which of, these proposals will be implemented.

By early 2005, most of the PPGs will be upgraded in the following programmatic order:

1 - general policies and principles;

3 - housing;

4 - economic development;

6 - town centres;

7 - countryside;

9 - nature conservation/ biodiversity;

10 - planning and waste management;

11 - regional planning;

12 - development plans;

22 - renewable energy;

23 - planning and pollution;

25 - development and flood risk.

Commencement orders for implementation of the new measures under the Planning Act are scheduled to start in September with most measures in force by the end of October.

Regulations on planning obligations will not be made until early 2006 and some parts of the development control section may have to wait until early next year because of secondary legislation or regulations, which have to be consulted upon.

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