The country’s chief planning officer has instructed councils to extend the planning consent period from the current three years to five
In a letter to all planning authorities, Steve Quartermain, chief planner at Communities and Local Government, said he was aware that some developers had encountered problems bringing schemes forward within the three-year period, due to the uncertain economic conditions. Local planning authorities might therefore wish to consider granting permissions with a longer duration.
Quartermain also suggested the five-year extension could also be granted to developments that have already received consent.
Brian Waters, president of the Association of Consultant Architects, welcomed the move, which, if taken on board by councils, could encourage wary investors and create new work for architects. He said: ‘This will boost workload. Clients who were hanging back can be more relaxed, as five years is a more sensible period.’
The government reduced the planning consent period from five years to three in 2004 in a measure intended to discourage landbanking scams.
Tim Hall, managing director of architectural practice Lewis & Hickey, approved of the return to five years, but said the system could do with speeding up.
He said: ‘I am pleased to hear of the reversion to five-year planning approval period. But I do get frustrated by planning authorities not arriving at decisions. We have two projects that have been locked in planning for one and two years respectively.’
Meanwhile, Michael Gallimore, the head of planning at law firm Lovells, warned that the move to issue extended approval periods to projects already granted consent could take time to bring into effect.
He said: ‘You cannot just unilaterally amend concessions already granted; there has be a due process.
‘But this is a very welcome development for the profession and the wider industry. It is giving a clear steer to the authorities.’