The Housing and Planning Minister John Healey has announced that planning permission consents can be doubled from the current three years to six years, in a move to encourage building
The move echoes that of Steve Quartermain, chief planner at Communities and Local Government, who in May wrote to all planning authorities to extend the consent period to five years.
This will allow developers more time to start building and further flexibility to adapt plans, since there has been a sharp drop-off in the number of permissions which are being taken up. Currently, permission that are not used expire automatically – usually after three years.
The move has been welcomed by housing groups and developers. Rynd Smith, head of policy and practice at the Royal Town Planning Institute, said: ‘We welcome the principle of extending the life of planning permissions, recognising that there are a large number of currently approved schemes that will not be developed within the three year lifetime of their existing permission.
‘However we consider that it is very important that the final power to make a decision about the extension of the duration of planning permission rests with local planning authorities, who will be able to use this new power pro-actively to ensure development remains on track and benefits the local community and the wider economy.’
Jonathan Seager, assistant director for planning at the British Property Federation said: ‘We have been working closely with the Government to explain the extent to which the property industry has been suffering in the recession. We therefore welcome this comprehensive set of new tools which will help to deliver more houses and economic development. The Government have listened to the concerns of developers and councils and is creating a sensible range of new interventions which will help to get some stalled schemes going again.’