The government has abolished the requirement to detail layout and scale in outline planning applications
The current rules were dropped following an amendment to the existing legislation at the start of this year (2013) - click here to see The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) (Amendment No. 3) Order 2012.
The move, which officially comes into force on 31 January 2013, is part of a bid by the government to streamline information requirements for outline planning applications aimed at speeding up decisions and reducing costs.
Councils will also be encouraged to regularly update their information requirements as part of the reform.
Previously outline planning applications were required to set out building locations, widths, lengths and upper and lower heights. Information about open spaces and routes was also needed.
The reform came as the government published its response to a consultation on the changes. Some local planning authorities opposed dropping layout information from the outline stage.
But developers argued that providing detail at outline stage was unnecessary and resulted in ‘outline applications [becoming as costly] as submitting a full application’.
The DCLG report said: ‘We consider that local planning authorities are better placed to judge the information required on a site-by-site basis and this proposal will allow for greater flexibility and proportionality, having regard to the complexity and specific context of a particular application.
‘As such, we have decided to take this proposal forward.’
Opportunities to simplify design and access statement requirements will also be reviewed by government.
‘The Order is extremely short, but its legal effects will be wide-ranging’ said Marcus Bate, planning expert at Pinsent Masons.
‘The volume of information required to be submitted with outline planning applications could be significantly reduced, resulting in cost savings for applicants and speeding up determination by local planning authorities. This should help to address the gradual decline in the use of outline applications following the erosion of the gap between costs and information requirements for outline and detailed applications.’
The British Property Federation welcomed the removal of layout and scale specifications, adding that local authorities should be able to decide whether to require such information from applicants.
In response to design and access statement requirements, it said: ‘In line with the wider culture change that is being encouraged by the National Planning Policy Framework and the Localism Act, we believe that it is crucial that applicants and local planning authorities alike need to change their way of thinking, in order to reduce the unnecessarily large design and access statements that are currently produced – with both outline and full planning applications alike.’