The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) has invited responses from the development industry on its further proposals for pre-application community consultation.
As you know the Localism Bill proposes a new legal duty requiring developers to undertake community consultation in respect of a proposed scheme before the planning application is submitted to the local authority. The application must be accompanied by a statement setting out what consultation has been undertaken and how the applicant has listened and responded to the community's views (see clause 102 of the Bill which is now at the Committee stage of the House of Commons).
Further details are expected from CLG in due course but for now CLG is proposing that the threshold for undertaking such pre-application consultation is set at large scale major planning applications specifically those for:
- 200 new dwellings or more (or where the number of dwellings is not prescribed for sites up to 4 hectares); or
- other developments providing over 10,000 sqm additional floor space (or with a site area of 2 hectares or more)
An impact assessment has been prepared which identifies that the majority of developers (80-90%) for large scale applications already undertake some form of consultation and the legal requirement to consult will not have a significant cost consequence. Indeed CLG believes that the benefits of consultation will be felt in terms of:
- speedier decision making because planning issues will have been identified and resolved at the pre-application stage rather than the determination stage
- increased local support once the application is submitted
- reduced need to appeal
- quicker start on site and realisation of uplift in value
- an overall increase in housing supply
Responses are invited by 21 March 2011. See the link here.
In our view this threshold is likely to come down particularly given the threshold for the recovery of housing appeals by the Secretary of State is set at 150 dwellings, and it would seem sensible for there to be consistency on threshold levels. In practice it may come down much further than this as supporters of the Localism agenda will argue that the local community should have a right to be consulted on all but the most minor of developments. Developers should respond to the consultation to have their say on what is the preferred threshold level.
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