COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL
GOVERNMENT News Release (136) issued by The Government News Network
on 6 June 2008
A new guide to
speed up planning partnerships between councils and developers was
published by Planning Minister, Iain Wright today.
The new 'step by step guide' sets out a logical process
for identifying what should be done, when and by whom to reduce
problems and speed up new major developments through the planning system.
The voluntary Planning Performance Agreements (PPAs) between a
local planning authority and an applicant provide a project
management framework for handling large and complex planning applications.
All PPAs that meet agreed timetables will be excluded from the
standard 13 week decision threshold meaning developers no longer
have to worry about target disincentives.
The new guidance also includes good practice examples developed
during the pilot study to help achieve successful planning applications.
Last year pilot projects were run which showed that PPAs added
value to the planning system by improving the quality and outcomes
of the planning approval process.
Iain Wright visited the Stockwell Park PPA pilot scheme in
Brixton this week where he discussed the benefits of having a PPA
with Council staff and the developer, the Network Housing Group
and heard how it helped agree the 550 new home development.
Planning Minister, Iain Wright said:
"The pressures on housing supply and the challenges faced by
those involved in delivering high quality, sustainable development
continue to increase"
"We are committed to improving the planning processes which
is why we introduced Planning Performance Agreements. They make a
real difference to bringing forward quality new development
through better project management."
"I was particularly impressed how the Planning Performance
Agreement in Stockwell Park brought the different groups together
and helped empower the community to shape the place they live in.
"The new 'ATLAS guide' will really help
developers, local councils and communities create strong planning
partnerships that find real solutions to complex planning issues."
Richard Saunders, Case officer for Stockwell Park Estate said:
"The PPA process provided a framework for the efficient
handling of the planning application. It enabled both the local
authority and applicants to track the application's progress,
identify key issues, agree on deadlines and timescales and revise
these by agreement if necessary. It provided greater certainty in
the process for all concerned."
PPAs formalise the communication process between the local
planning authority right through to completion. They help bring
about early engagement on projects between partners with more
collaborative working, project leadership and community involvement.
This framework commits both parties to an agreed timetable
containing 'milestones' including:
* An agreed timetable to replace the standard thirteen weeks target.
* Clarifies in advance what level of evidence, resources and
community engagement are required.
* Ensures that all relevant aspects such as sustainability
assessments and design standards are properly considered.
* Councils can agree an appropriate charge for providing this service.
Andrew Whitaker, Head of Planning, Home Builders Federation Ltd
welcomed the development of PPAs. He said:
"PPAs are a positive tool for genuine partnership working
between the private and public sectors ensuring that, for what are
often complex development projects in an ever increasingly complex
policy environment, the planning process becomes more transparent
Pilot case studies in detail:
The Stockwell Park and Robsart Village estates development
included 550 new homes including 185 replacement homes (164 social
rented and 21 'fixed equity' homes); 36 new shared
ownership homes; 329 new market homes; and, 491 homes will be refurbished.
The London Borough of Lambeth and the Network Housing Group
adopted a PPA approach for a major housing stock transfer project
in Stockwell Park in Brixton.
The scheme required approval of an outline planning permission
and so the Council decided to hold an 'inception day'
which was facilitated by ATLAS. One of the outputs from the day
was the production of a detailed project plan covering key issues
and timescales which was reviewed and updated at a series of
Dove Lane Project in Bristol is a mixed use development
comprising 700 homes, major office and business floor space plus
retail, a hotel, and a range of community facilities. Bristol City
Council and the development consortium hosted an inception day as
part of the PPA process to engage with the local community. It
provided a useful forum for sharing information, ideas and
opinions and the continued involvement in the project following
the signing of the PPA as part of their Community Engagement Strategy.
Guildford Borough Council, Thames Water and Surrey County Council
established a PPA for the 'Slyfield' site to build
around 1500 new homes with employment uses as well as a locating a
new sewage treatments works and waste/recycling facilities. With
such a complex project Guildford wanted to bring the key delivery
partners together as early as possible and saw the PPA process as
an ideal way of achieving this
Lancaster City Council employed a PPA approach to a major
extension of its City Centre comprising retail, offices,
residential and cultural facilities. The local community was
originally sceptical but the City Council and the lead developer
jointly agreed some 'Rules of Engagement' and a flexible
project plan as part of a Charter.
Notes to Editor
1. New best practice guidance and case studies on Planning
Performance Agreements are available at the website of the
Advisory Team for Large-scale Applications, http://www.atlasplanning.com
2. Emma Appleton, Head of Enabling, CABE said: "ATLAS
involved us in testing and evolving the Guide. From CABE's
experience of working on projects through our enabling and design
review programmes, getting the process right is imperative. This
useful guide promotes better working and true collaborative
processes, two ingredients which are crucial to achieving high
quality development and lasting places."
3. Phil Kirby, Senior Vice President of POS said: "The
Planning Officers Society are very supportive of the ATLAS Guide.
We endorse it and encourage our members to adopt the structured,
collaborative processes that it promotes".
4. Leonora Rozee OBE, Deputy Chief Exec & Director of Policy
at PINS said: "The ATLAS Guide contains a huge amount of well
researched and comprehensive information and I'm sure it will
become an invaluable, independent and authoritative source of
advice and guidance for all involved in dealing with large scale
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