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An Opportunity for Developers?

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The Localism Bill received Royal Assent on 15 November 2011 and the provisions of the Act will be phased in from April 2012.  The Act sees the introduction of further changes to the planning system and this article will explore the main implications and opportunities for developers.

The Localism Act – An Opportunity for Developers?

Whilst the Act introduces new procedures to be followed by developers during the planning application process it also creates an opportunity for developers to engage with local communities and to help shape the development areas.

The Act places a compulsory obligation on developers to consult local communities before submitting planning applications for certain types of development.  Full details of the sorts of development to be subject to this requirement will be set out in secondary legislation which should be finalised towards the end of 2012.  Developers will need to ensure that the consultation process is carried out correctly and that all proposals made by the local community are properly considered otherwise any resulting planning permission could be open to challenge.  If managed correctly the consultation process could reduce the number of objections made once the planning application is submitted.

The Act allows local communities to develop a neighbourhood plan for their area.  Communities will be able to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in their area.  Furthermore with a Neighbourhood Development Order communities can also grant planning permission for new buildings they want to see go ahead.

Prudent developers need to be aware of what is happening in areas where they have land interests and engage with the local community with a view to influencing the policies contained within a neighbourhood plan and also any development granted consent, pursuant to a Neighbourhood Development Order.  Government guidance suggests that developers may sponsor local communities in the preparation of a neighbourhood plan with a view to taking a leading role in the process.

The above opportunities may result in more up front costs for developers however, if used effectively; the new provisions could see developers securing planning permission without the need to pursue an application through to appeal.  As a result developers may ultimately benefit.

Julia Lock is an Associate Solicitor with Andrew & Co LLP and can be contacted at the firm’s Newark office on 01636 673743 or julia.lock@andrew-solicitors.co.uk  You can also follow Julia on Twitter @Julia_AndrewLLP

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