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Govt ease planning rules to keep projects alive

Planning and housing minister John Healey announced today that the Government intends to extend three-year cut off date for implementing planning permission on existing projects in an effort to lessen the impact of the construction slowdown.

Speaking at the RTPI Planning Convention this morning Mr Healey said it was vital to “keep as many development projects on the table as possible” during the difficult economic conditions.

He added that he wanted to make it easier to apply for planning permission in the first place and to make minor alterations to scheme “without going back to square one”.

He added that he wanted local authorities to make more use of Local Development Orders to “revive high streets, town centres, find new uses for empty shops and support businesses. 

He said: “The legislation is in place and I want to encourage them to use it more widely.”

Measures will include funding for 12 local authorities use LDO powers to encourage development in the recession.

The CBI  has been campaigning for the Government to recognise the threat of  posed to the construction industry of thousands of construction projects losing planning permission  as developers have postponed projects until the economy recovers .

It claims having to reapply in full for planning permission before starting such projects would be costly for developers, and would hold back investment.

CBI director of business environment Dr Neil Bentley said: “We welcome the announcement, and are pleased that the government has listened to business. Without action, developers would have had to re-navigate costly planning rules to start new construction activity. There would have been a real risk that new jobs and investment would have been held back unnecessarily. Today’s proposals should help the economy get back on its feet as quickly as possible.”

The consultation document is available at http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/flexibilitypermissions

By Ben Hall - deputy editor at H&V News

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