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Planning changes could place burden on system

A legal property expert has highlighted proposals to make it simpler for developers to proceed with projects, warning that the planning system is in danger of being overstretched.

It was recently announced that the Government is looking to give developers powers to go ahead with developments without needing the traditional approval from a local council, or for complex environmental assessments to be carried out.

The move is expected to be announced in April in a bid to help the industry meet Government targets for building new homes.

The controversial plans would mean that if local councillors delay decisions on the conditions often attached to planning applications – for instance drainage – then the developers will be allowed to proceed with their plans.

The Government is also expected to remove the requirement for developers to carry out environmental impact assessments on certain large projects. These assessments are often lengthy and expensive and can cause large delays to projects.

An expert at Napthens solicitors, said: “Environmental impact assessments are often a real issue for developers, and while they are accepted as a crucial part of the planning process, can severely delay a project.

“These proposals would remove this burden from certain large-scale projects, and would also mean that if local councils were to delay decisions on planning conditions a developer could push ahead with their scheme.

“The Government is clearly hoping to make it easier for developments to get underway after what was almost a moratorium on new schemes for several years.

“However, it is easy to see how stretched the planning system is becoming and many in the industry are concerned that it will soon reach a point where there are simply too many developments in the pipeline.

“This clearly cannot go on for long, and many developers will see this as their opportunity to begin schemes before the rules are changed again.”

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