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An element of housing

The 2008 Planning Act provides the legislative basis for granting consent for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects in the fields of energy, transport, water supply, waste water and waste.

The NSIP process effectively provides a ‘one stop shop’ for planning and associated development consents process, including the use of compulsory purchase powers to enable delivery where required.

The process is ‘front loaded’ requiring the developer to consult local communities, the local planning authorities and statutory consultees before an application is made.

The application is examined by an Inspector (or a panel of inspectors) who will provide recommendations in a report to the Secretary of State to make the decision on whether a ‘Development Consent Order’ should be made.

The Order will specify details of the development consented and its location (including plans) and any requirements (conditions) that must be met in implementing the consent.

The Housing and Planning Bill (clause 107) introduces the scope an element of “related housing development” to be brought forward as part of the existing categories of NSIPs under the 2008 Act.

London First held a round table discussion on the 18th November with the Department for Communities and Local Government’s policy lead, David Wilkes, hosted by Bircham Dyson Bell and chaired by Shabana Anwar, Partner in BDB’s Planning and Infrastructure Team.

The key aspects of the Bill’s proposals and the conclusions of the round table discussion are summarised below.

The Bill proposes that the Secretary of State may grant planning permission for housing when determining related NSIP application. The housing can be either functionally linked to the infrastructure project (for example, housing for workers during the construction or operational phase) or in ‘close geographical proximity’ to the infrastructure project.

Draft guidance published by the DCLG (28th October) on NSIPs confirmed that:

  • 500 dwellings will be the upper limit for housing that can be included as part of the NSIP application;
  • ‘close geographical proximity’ means on the same site as, or next to or ‘close to’ any part of that infrastructure (up to a mile away);
  • Housing that is not functionally linked will have to include affordable housing and starter homes;
  • The Secretary of State will not consider any housing element which forms part of a business and commercial project when deciding whether a s.35 direction should be issued;
  • The housing element of a project in an NSIP application should provide full (not outline) details.

The key conclusions of the round table on the scope for take up of the inclusion of housing within an NSIP in London were summed up succinctly by Shabana from Bircham Dyson Bell:

“The introduction of an element of housing as part of an NSIP application is welcomed and definitely a step in the right direction. However, the proposals as currently drafted require further consideration and amendment. In their current form they will not encourage more developers to use the NSIP regime which is the ultimate aim.
“This is mainly for two reasons: the upper limit of 500 dwellings is too restrictive for larger schemes such as Crossrail (were it to use the regime); and the requirement to provide full details of the housing at the application stage will be difficult for many developers to satisfy”
Contact: Sara Parkinson, sparkinson@londonfirst.co.uk

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